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D DDD1 01Sfl7fl3 D
A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
NEW YORK BOSTON. CHICAGO DALLAS
ATLANTA * SAN FRANCISCO
MACMILLAN & CO, LIMITED
LONDON BOMBAY CALCUTTA
THE MACMILLAN CO. OF CANADA, LTD.
A HANDY GUIDE
ESPECIALLY THOSE OF
THE POETIC FRATERNITY
Being sundry explorations, made while afoot and
penniless in Florida, Georgia, North Carolina,
Tennessee, Kentucky, New Jersey, and Pennsyl-
vania. These adventures convey and illustrate
the rules of beggary for poets and some others
BY VACHEL LINDSAY
1 Author of " The Congo" " The Art of The Moving
I Picture," " Adventures while Preaching
the Gospel of Beauty" etc.
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
BY THE MACMILLAN COMPANY.
Set up and electro typed. Published November, 1916,
J S. CusMng Co Berwick & Smith Co.
Norwood, Mass., U.S.A.
THE author desires to express his indebted-
ness to The Outlook for permission to reprint the
adventures in the South and to Charles Zueblin
for permission to reprint the adventures in the
The author desires to express his indebted-
ness to the Chicago Herald for permission to re-
print The Would-be Merman, and to The Forum
for What the Sexton Said, and to The Yale Re-
view for The Tramp 9 s Refusal.
The author wishes to express his gratitude
to Mr. George Mather Richards, Miss Susan
Wilcox, Mr. and Mrs. Frank Ide and Miss
Grace Humphrey for their generous help and
advice in preparing this work.
DEDICATION AND PREFACE OF A
HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
THERE are one hundred new poets in the
villages of the land. This Handy Guide is
dedicated first of all to them.
It is also dedicated to the younger sons of
the wide earth, to the runaway boys and girls
getting further from home every hour, to the
prodigals who are still wasting their substance
in riotous living, be they gamblers or blas-
phemers or plain drunks; to those heretics of
whatever school to whom life is a rebellion with
banners ; to those who are willing to accept
counsel if it be mad counsel.
This book is also dedicated to those budding
philosophers who realize that every creature is
a beggar in the presence of the beneficent sun,
to those righteous ones who know that all
righteousness is as filthy rags.
Moreover, as an act of contrition, reeniist-
ment and fellowship this book is dedicated to
all the children of Don Quixote who see giants
where most folks see windmills: those Gala-
viii DEDICATION AND PREFACE
hads dear to Christ and those virgin sisters of
Joan of Arc who serve the lepers on their knees
and march in shabby armor against the proud,
who look into the lightning with the eyes of
the mountain cat. They do more soldierly
things every day than this book records, yet
they are mine own people, my nobler kin to
whom I have been recreant, and so I finally
dedicate this book to them.
- These are the rules of the road :
(1) Keep away from the Cities ; -
(2) Keep away from the railroads ;
(3) Have nothing to do with money and
carry no baggage ;
(4) Ask for dinner about quarter after eleven ;
(5) Ask for supper, lodging and breakfast
about quarter of five ; , / ,
(6) Travel .alone; .
(7) Be neat, deliberate, chaste and civil ;
(8) Preach the Gospel of Beauty.
And without further parley, let us proceed
to inculcate these, by illustration, precept and
TABLE OF CONTENTS
ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS ...... v
THE DEDICATION AND PREFACE vii
FOLLOW THE THISTLEDOWN ..... xi
I. VAGRANT AD VENTURES IN THE SOUTH
THE MAN UNDER THE YOKE. BEING MY FIRST EX-
PERIENCE AS AN ABSOLUTELY PENNILESS PER-
SON, AND SHOWING THE GOOD FORTUNE OF THE
THE MAN WITH THE APPLE-GREEN EYES. A STORY
COVERING A RIDE IN Two FREIGHT-CABOOSES
IN SOUTHERN GEORGIA. SHOWING How MY
GOOD LUCK CAME AFTER I SPENT MY ALL UPON
INTERLUDE : THE WOULD-BE MERMAN ... 33
MACON. SHOWING MY FIRST RESPITE WITH- A
CIVILIZED FRIEND 35
THE FALLS OF TALLULAH. BEING THE STORY OF A
WILD BATH IN A MOUNTAIN-TORRENT, AND A
CONVERSATION WITH THE EARTH ... 38
THE GNOME. BEING THE STORY or A GROTESQUE
MOONSHINER, EATEN UP WITH DRINK . . 46
x TABLE OF CONTENTS
INTERLUDE : THE TRAMP'S REFUSAL . . .61
THE HOUSE OF THE LOOM. BEING THE STORY OF
SEVEN ARISTOCRATS AND A SOAP-KETTLE. AN
EMINENT INSTANCE OF THE GOOD FORTUNE OF
THE DEVOTEE OF VOLUNTARY POVERTY . . 63
INTERLUDE: PHIDIAS 78
MAN, IN THE CITY OF COLLARS. SHOWING How AN
UNEXPECTED SHOCK CAME TO A CIVILIZED PER-
SON. A NOT VERY TRAGIC RELAPSE INTO THE
TOILS OF FINANCE 79
INTERLUDE: CONFUCIUS 87
THE OLD LADY AT THE TOP OF THE HILL. SHOW-
ING How AN EMPRESS OF THE MOUNTAINS DE-
SIRED ME AS HER GUEST .... 88
INTERLUDE: WITH A ROSE, TO BRUNHILDE . . 94
LADY IRON-HEELS. A STORY TOUCHING UPON THE
ROMANCE OF A LONG-DEAD FLORIST, ALSO
THE CANTICLE OF THE ROSE . . . .96
H. A MENDICANT PILGRIMAGE IN THE
IN LOST JERUSALEM . . . . . .113
A TEMPLE MADE WITH HANDS . . , .115
INTERLUDE: THE TOWN OF AMERICAN VISIONS 133
ON BEING ENTERTAINED BY COLLEGE BOYS . . 135
INTERLUDE: THAT WHICH MEN HAIL AS KING . 137
NEAR SHICKSHINNY. THE STORY OF THE HOS-
PITALITY OF A PROMISING FAMILY IN A COAL-
TABLE OF CONTENTS xi
INTEELUDE: WHAT THE SEXTON SAID . . . 159
DEATH, THE DEVIL, AND HUMAN KINDNESS. BEING
THE SHRED OF AN ALLEGORY . . . .160
INTERLUDES: "LIFE TRANSCENDENT" . . . 179
IN THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
CHURCH ..... 180
THE OLD GENTLEMAN WITH THE LANTERN (AND THE
PEOPLE OF His HOUSEHOLD) . . . .182
THAT MEN MIGHT SEE AGAIN THE ANGEL-THRONG 205
FOLLOW THE THISTLEDOWN
I asked her "Is Aladdin's Lamp
"Look into your heart/* she said,
"Aladdin's Lamp is there.**
She took my heart with glowing hands.
It burned to dust and air
And smoke and rolling thistledown.
"Follow the thistledown," she said,
"Till doomsday if you dare,
Over the hills and far away.
Aladdin's Lamp is there."
VAGRANT ADVENTURES IN THE
WOULD that we had the fortunes of Columbus.
Sailing his caravels a trackless way,
He found a Universe he sought Cathay.
God give such dawns as when, his venture o'er,
The Sailor looked upon San Salvador.
God lead us past the setting of the sun
To wizard islands, of august surprise ;
God make our blunders wise.
THE MAN UNDER THE YOKE
IT was Sunday morning in the middle of
March. I was stranded in Jacksonville, Florida.
After breakfast I had five cents left. Joyously
I purchased a sack of peanuts, then started
northwest on the railway ties straight toward
that part of Georgia marked "Swamp" on the
Sunset found me in a pine forest. I decided
to ask for a meal and lodging at the white
house looming half a mile ahead just by the
track. I prepared a speech to this effect :
"I am the peddler of dreams. I am the
sole active member of the ancient brotherhood
of the troubadours. It is against the rules of
our order to receive money. We have the
habit of asking a night's lodging in exchange
for repeating verses and fairy tales."
As I approached the house I forgot the
speech. All the turkeys gobbled at me fiercely.
The two dogs almost tore down the fence try-
ing to get a taste of me. I went to the side
6 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
gate to appeal to the proud old lady crowned
with a lace cap and enthroned in the porch
rocker. Her son, the proprietor, appeared.
He shall ever be named the dog-man. His
tone of voice was such, that, to speak In meta-
phor, he bit me in the throat. He refused
me a place in his white kennel. He would
not share his dog-biscuit. The being on the
porch assured me in a whanging yelp that
they did not take " nobody in under no cir-
cumstances." Then the dog-man, mollified by
my serene grin, pointed with his thumb into
the woods, saying : " There is a man in there
who will take you in sure." He said it as
though it were a reflection on Ms neighbor's
dignity. That I might not seem to be hurry-
ing, I asked if his friend kept watch-dogs.
He assured me the neighbor could not afford
The night with the man around the corner
was like a chapter from that curious document,
"The Gospel according to St. John." He
"could not afford to turn a man away" be-
cause once he slept three nights in the rain
when he walked here from west Georgia. No
one would give him shelter. After that he
THE MAN UNDEB THE YOKE 7
decided that when he had a roof he would go
shares with whoever asked. Some strangers
were good, some bad, but he would risk them
all. Imagine this amplified in the drawling
wheeze of the cracker sucking his corn-cob
pipe for emphasis.
His real name and address are of no conse-
quence. I found later that there were thou-
sands like him. But let us call him "The
Man Under the Yoke." He was lean as an
old opium-smoker. He was sooty as a pair
of tongs. His Egyptian-mummy jaws had a
two-weeks' beard. His shirt had not been
washed since the flood. His ankles were in-
nocent of socks. His hat had no band. J.
verily believe his pipe was hereditary, smoked
first by a bond-slave in Jamestown, Virginia.
He could not read. I presume his wife
could not. They were much embarrassed
when I wanted them to show me Lakeland
on the map. They had warned me against
that village as a place where itinerant strangers
were shot full of holes. Well, I found that
town pretty soon on the map, and made the
brief, snappy memorandum in my notebook:
8 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
There were three uncertain chairs on the
porch, one a broken rocker. Therefore the
company sat on the railing, loafing against
the pillars. The plump wife was frozen with
diffidence. The genial, stubby neighbor, a
man from away back in the woods, after tell-
ing me how to hop freight-cars, departed
through an aperture in the wandering fence.
The two babies on the floor, squealing like
shoats, succeeded in being good without being
clean. They wrestled with the puppies who
emerged from somewhere to the number of
four. I wondered if the Man Under the Yoke
would turn to a dog-man when the puppies
grew up and learned to bark.
Supper was announced with the admonition,
"Bring the chairs." The rocking chair would
not fit the kitchen table. Therefore the two
babies occupied one, ,and the lord of the house
another, and the kitchen chair was "allotted
to your servant. The mother hastened to
explain that she was "not hungry." After
snuffing the smoking lamp that had no chim-
ney, she paced at regular intervals between
the stove and her lord, piling hot biscuits
THE MAN UNDER THE YOKE 9
I could not offer my chair, and make it
plain that some one must stand. I expressed
my regrets at her lack of appetite and fell to.
Their hospitality did not fade in my eyes
when I considered that they ate such pro-
visions every day. There was a dish of salt
pork that tasted like a salt mine. We had
one deep plate in common containing a soup
of luke-warm water, tallow, half-raw fat pork
and wilted greens. This dish was innocent
of any enhancing condiment. I turned to the
They were " raw in the middle. I kept up
courage by watching the children consume
the tallow soup with zest. After taking one
biscuit for meat, and one for vegetables, I
ate a third -for good-fellowship. The mother
was anxious that her children should be a
credit, and shook them too sternly and ener-
getically I thought, when they buried their
hands in the main dish.
Meanwhile the Man Under the Yoke told
me how his bosses in the lumber-camp kept
his wages down to the point where the grocery
bill took all his pay; how he was forced to
trade at the "company" store, there in the
10 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
heart of the pine woods. He had cut himself
In the saw-pit, had been laid up for a month,
and "like a fool" had gone back to the same
business. Last year he had saved a little
money, expecting to get things "fixed up nice/'
but the whole family was sick from June till
October. He liked his fellow-workmen. They
had to stand all he did. They loved the
woods, and because of this love would not
move to happier fortunes. Few had gone
farther than Jacksonville. They did not under-
stand travelling. They did not understand
the traveller and were " likely to be mean to
him." Then he asked me whether I thought
"niggers" had souls. I answered "Yes." He
agreed reluctantly. "They have a soul, of
course, but it's a mighty small one." We
adjourned to the front room, carrying our
chairs down a corridor, where the open door-
ways we passed displayed uncarpeted floors
and no furniture. The echo of the slow steps
of the Man Under the Yoke reverberated
through the wide house like muffled drums
at a giant's funeral. Yet the largeness of
the empty house was wealth. I have been
entertained since in many a poorer castle;
THE MAN UNDER THE YOKE 11
for Instance, in Tennessee, where a deaf old
man, a crone, and lier sister, a lame man, a
slug of a girl, and a little unexplained boy ate,
cooked, and slept by an open fire. They had
neither stove, lamp, nor candle. I was made
sacredly welcome for the night, though it
was a one-room cabin with a low roof and a
Thanks to the Giver of every good and
perfect gift, pine-knots cost nothing in a pine
forest. New York has no such fireplaces
as that in the front room of the Man Under
the Yoke. I thought of an essay by a New
England sage on compensation. There were
many old scriptures rising in my heart as I
looked into that blaze. The one I remembered
most was "I was a stranger, and ye took me
in." But though it was Sunday night, I did
not quote Scripture to my host.
It was seven o'clock. The wife had put
her babies to bed. She sat on the opposite
side of the fire from us. Eight o'clock was
bedtime, the host had to go to work so early.
But our three hearts were bright as the burn-
ing pine for an hour.
You have enjoyed the golden embossed
12 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
brocades of Hokusai. You have felt the
charm of Maeterlinck's "The Blind." Think
of these, then think of the shoulders of the
Man Under the Yoke, embossed by the flame.
Think of his voice as an occult instrument,
while he burned a bit of crackling brush, and
spoke of the love he bore that fireplace, the
memory of evenings his neighbors had spent
there with him, the stories told, the pipes
smoked, the good silent times with wife and
children. It was said by hints, and repeti-
tions, and broken syllables, but it was said.
We ate and drank in the land of heart's desire.
This man and his wife sighed at the fitting
times, and smiled, when to smile was to under-
stand, while I recited a few of the rhymes of
the dear singers of yesterday and to-day :
Yeats and Lanier, Burns and even Milton.
This fire was the treasure at the end of the
rainbow. I had not been rainbow-chasing in
As my host rose and knocked out his pipe,
he told how interesting lumbering with oxen
could be made, if a man once understood
how they were driven. He assured me that
the most striking thing in all these woods
THE MAN UNDER THE YOKE IS
was a team of ten oxen. He directed me to a
road whereby I would be sure to see half a
dozen to-morrow. He said if ever I met a
literary man, to have him write them into
verses. Therefore the next day I took the
route and observed : and be sure, if ever I
meet the proper minstrel, I shall exhort him
with all my strength to write the poem of the
As to that night, I slept in that room in the
corner away from the fireplace. One comfort
was over me, one comfort and pillow between
me and the dark floor. The pillow was laun-
dered at the same time as the shirt of my host.
There was every reason to infer that the
pillow and comfort came from his bed.
They slept far away, in some mysterious
part of the empty house. I hoped they were
not cold. I looked into the rejoicing fire. I
said: "This is what I came out into the wil-
derness to see. This man had nothing, and
gave me half of it, and we both had abundance. 3 *
THE MAN WITH THE APPLE-GREEN
REMEMBER, If you go a-wandering, the road
will break your heart. It is sometimes like a
woman, caressing and stabbing at once. It is
a mystery, this quality of the road. I write,
not to explain, but to warn, and to give the
treatment. Comradeship and hospitality are
opiates most often at hand.
I remember when I encountered the out-
poured welcome of an Old Testament Patriarch,
a praying section boss in a gray log village, one
Monday evening in north Florida. He looked
at me long. He sensed my depression. He
made me his seventh son.
He sent his family about to announce my
lecture in the schoolhouse on "The Value of
Poetry." Enough apple-cheeked maidens, sad
mothers, and wriggling, large-eyed urchins as-
sembled to give an unconscious demonstration
of the theme.
The little lamp spluttered. The windows
THE MAN WITH APPLE-GREEN EYES 15
rattled. Two babies cried. Everybody as-
sumed that lectures were delightful, miserable,
and important. Tlie woman on the back seat
nursed her baby, reducing the noise one third.
When I was through shouting, they passed
the hat. I felt sure I had carried my point.
Poetry was eighty-three cents valuable, a
good deal for that place. And the sons of
the Patriarch were the main contributors, for
before the event he had thunderously exhorted
them to be generous. I should not have taken
the money ? But that was before I had a good
grip on my rule.
The Patriarch was kept away by a neighbor
who had been seized with fits on Sunday, while
fishing. The neighbor though mending physi-
cally, was in a state of apprehension. He de-
manded, with strong crying and tears, that
the Patriarch pray with him. Late in the
evening, as we were about the hearth, recover-
ing from the lecture, my host returned from
the sinner's bed, the pride of priesthood in his
step. He had established a contrite heart in
his brother, though all the while frank with
him about the doubtful efficacy of prayer in
healing a body visited with just wrath.
16 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
Who would not have loved the six sons, when,
at the Patriarch's command, they drew Into a
circle around the family altar, with their small
sister, and the gentle mother with her babe
at her breast? It was an achievement to put
the look of prayer into such flushed, wilful
faces as those boys displayed. They followed
their father with the devotion of an Ironside
regiment as he lifted up his voice singing
"The Son of God goes forth to War." They
rolled out other strenuous hymns. I thought
they would sing through the book. I looked
at the mother. I thanked God for her. She
was the only woman in Florida who could
cook. And her voice was honey. Her breast
was ivory. The child was a pearl. Her whole
aspect had the age and the youth of one of
De Forest Brush's austere American madonnas.
The scripture lesson, selected not by chance,
covered the adventures of Jacob at Bethel.
We afterwards knelt on the pine floor, our
heads in the seats of the chairs. I peeped and
observed the Patriarch with his chair almost
in the fireplace. He ignored the heat. He
shouted the name of the smallest boy, who
answered the roll-call by praying: "Now I
THE MAN WITH APPLE-GREEN EYES 17
lay me down to sleep." The father mega-
phoned for the next, and the next, with a like
response. He called the girl's name, but in
a still small voice she lisped the Lord's Prayer.
As the older boys were reached, the prayers
became individual, but containing fragments
of "Now I lay me." The mother petitioned
for the soul of the youngest boy, not yet in a
state of grace, for a sick cousin, and many a
neighborhood cause. The father prayed twenty
minutes, while the chair smoked. I forgot the
chair at last when he voiced the petition that
the stranger in the gates might have visitations
on his lonely road, like Jacob at Bethel. Then
a great appeal went up the chimney that the
whole assembly might bear abundantly the
fruits of the spirit. The fire leaped for joy.
I knew that when the prayer appeared before
the throne, it was still a tongue of flame.
Next morning I spent about seventy cents
lecture money on a railway ticket, and tried
to sleep past my destination, but the con-
ductor woke me. He put me off in the Oke-
fenokee swamp, just inside the Georgia line.
The waters had more brass-bespangled ooze
18 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
than In mid-Florida ; the marsh weeds beneath
were lustrous red. I crossed an interminable
trestle over the Suwannee River. A fidgety
bird was scolding from tie to tie. If the sky
had been turned over and the azure boiled
to a spoonful, you would have had the intense
blue with which he was painted. If the
caldron had been filled with sad clouds, and
boiled to a black lump, you would have had
my heart. Ungrateful, I had forgotten the
Patriarch. I was lonely for I knew not what ;
maybe for my friend Edward Broderick, who
had walked with me through central Florida,
and had been called to New York by the
industrial tyranny which the steel rails repre-
sented even here.
We two had taken the path beside the rail-
way in the regions of Sanford and Tampa,
walking in loose sand white as salt. An
orange grove in twilight had been a sky of
little moons. We had eaten not many oranges.
They are expensive there. But we had stolen
the souls of all we passed, and so had spoiled
them for their owners. It had been an ex-
We had seen swamps of parched palmettos
THE MAN WITH APPLE-GREEN EYES 19
set afire by wood-burning locomotives whose
volcanic smoke-stacks are squat and wide,
like those on the engines in grandmother's
We had met Mr. Terrapin, Mr. Owl, Mrs.
Cow, and Master Calf, all of them carved by
the train-wheels, Mr. Buzzard sighing beside
them. We had met Mr. Pig again at the
cracker's table, cooked by last year's forest-
fire, run over by last year's train. But what
had it mattered? For we together had had
ears for the mocking-bird, and eyes for the
moss-hung live oaks that mourn above the
brown swamp waters.
We had met few men afoot, only two pro-
fessional tramps, yet the path by the railway
was clearly marked. Some Florida poet must
celebrate the Roman directness of the rail-
ways embanked six feet above the swamp,
going everywhere in regions that have no
But wherever in our land there is a railway,
there is a little path clinging to the embank-
ment holding the United States in a network
as real as that of the rolled steel, a path
wrought by the foot of the unsubdued. This
A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
path, wanders back through history till it
encounters Tramp Columbus, Tramp Dante,
Tramp St. Francis, Tramp Buddha, and the
rest of our masters.
All this we talked of nobly, even grandilo-
quently, but now I walked alone, ignoring the
beautiful turpentine forests of Georgia and the
sometime accepted merits of a quest for the
Grail, the Gleam, or the Dark Tower. Reach-
ing Fargo about one o'clock I attempted to
telegraph fonmoney to take me home, beaten.
It was not a money-order office, and thirteen
cents would not have covered the necessary
business details. Forced to make the best of
things, I spent all upon ginger-snaps at the
combination grocery-store and railway-station.
I shared them with a drummer waiting for the
freight, who had the figure of Falstaff, and
the mustaches of Napoleon third. I did not
realize at that time, that by getting myself
penniless I was inviting good luck.
After a dreary while, the local freight going
to Valdosta came in. Napoleon advanced to
capture a ride. A conductor and an inspector
were on the platform. He attacked them
with cigars. He indulged freely in friendly
THE MAN WITH APPLE-GREEN EYES 21
swearing and slapping on the back. He showed
credentials, printed and written. He did not
want to wait three hours for the passenger
train in that much-to-be-condemned town.
His cigars were refused, his papers returned.
He took the path to the lumberman's hotel.
His defeat appeared to be the inspector's doing.
That obstinate inspector wore a gray stubble
beard and a collar chewed by many laundries.
He was encompassed in a black garment of
state that can -be described as a temperance
overcoat. He needed only a bulging umbrella
and a nose like a pump-spout to resemble the
caricatures of the Prohibition Party that ap-
peared in Puck when St. John ran for President.
I showed him all my baggage carried in an
oil-cloth wrapper in my breast pocket : a
blue bandanna, a comb, a little shaving mirror,
a tooth-brush, a razor, and a piece of soap.
"These," I said, "are my credentials."
Also I showed a little package of tracts in
rhyme I was distributing to the best people:
The Wings of the Morning, or The Tree oj
Laughing Bells, 1 I hinted he might become
1 This appears, pages seventy-four through eighty-one, in
General Booth and Other Poems.
2 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGAES
the possessor of one. I drew Ms attention
to the fact that there was no purse In the
exhibit. I divided my last four ginger-snaps
with him. I showed him a letter commending
me to all pious souls from a leading religious
worker In New York, Charles F. Powlison.
Soon we were thundering away to Valdosta !
Mr. Temperance climbed to the observation
chair in the little box at the top of the caboose,
alternately puzzling over my Wings of the
Morning, 1 and looking out. The caboose
bumped like a farm-wagon on a frozen road.
The pine-burning stove roared. The negro
Adonis on the wood-pile had gold in his teeth.
He had eyes like dark jewels set in white
marble, and he polished lanterns as black as
"By Jove/' I said. "That's the handsomest
bit of lacquer this side of the Metropolitan
" J Sh/* said Conductor Roundface, sobering
himself. "You will queer yourself with the
old man. He wouldn't let that drummer on
because Tie swore."
1 This appears, pages seventy-four tlirougli eighty-one, In
General Booth and Other Poems.
THE MAN WITH APPLE-GBEEN EYES 3
The old man came down. I bridled my
profane tongue while lie lectured the conductor
on the necessity for more interest in the Georgia
public schools, and the beauty of total ab-
stinence, and, at last, the Japanese situation.
This is a condensed translation of his speech:
"I was on the side of the Russians all through
the Russo-Japanese war. My friends said,
'Hooray for Japan. 3 But I say a Japanese
is a nigger. I have never seen one, but I have
seen their pictures. The Lord intended people
to stay where they were put. We ought to
have trade, but no immigration. Chinese be-
long to China. They are adapted to the
Chinese climate. Niggers belong to Africa.
They are adapted to the African climate.
Americans belong to America. They are
adapted to the American climate. Why, the
mixing that is going on is something scandalous.
I had a nigger working for me once that was
half-Spaniard and half -Indian. There are just
a few white people, and more mulattoes every
day. The white people ought to keep their
blood pure. Russians are white people. Ger-
mans, English, and Americans are white people.
French people are niggers. Dagoes are niggers.
m A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
Jews are niggers. All people are niggers but
just these four. There Is going to be a big
war in two or three years between all the
white people and all the niggers. The niggers
are going to combine and force a fight, Japan
in the lead."
We reached Valdosta after dark. Conductor
and inspector exchanged with me most civil
good-bys. Their hospitality had been nepenthe
for my poor broken heart. I reconciled my-
self to sitting in front of the station fireplace
all night. I thought my nearest friend was
at Macon, one hundred and fifty miles north;
a gay cavalier who had read Omar "Khayyam
with me in college.
Just then an immense, angular, red-haired
man sat down in front of the fire. He might
have been the prodigal son of some Yankee
farmer-statesman. He threw his arms around
me, and though I had never seen him before,
the Brotherhood of Man was established at
once. He cast an empty bottle into the wood-
box. He produced another. I would not
drink. He poured down one-half of it. It
snorted like dish-water going into the sink.
He said: "That's right. Don't drink. This
MAN WITH APPLE-GREEN EYES 25
is the first time I ever drank. I have been
on a soak two weeks. You see I was in Texas
a long time, and went broke. I don't know
how I got here." "Well/' I said, "we have
this fire till -"they run us out. Enjoy yourself."
He wept. "I don't deserve to enjoy any-
thing. Anybody that's made a fool of himself
as I have done. I wish I were in Vermont
where my wife and babies are buried. Some-
body wrote me they were dead and buried just
when I went broke."
Thereafter he was merry. "There was a
man in Vermont I didn't like who kept a fire
like this. I went to see him every evening
because I liked his fire. He would study and
I would smoke."
He took out two dimes. "Say, that's my
last money. Let's buy two tickets to the next
station and get off and shoot up the town."
A hollow-eyed little man of middle age,
grimy like a coal-miner, sat down on the
other side of Mr. Vermont. He said he had
been flagging trains for so long he could not
tell when he began. He said he must wait
three hours for a friend. He declined the
bottle. He listened to Mr. Vermont's story,
26 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
told with variations. He put his chin into
his hands, his elbows on his knees, and slept.
Vermont threw himself on top of the bent
back, his face wrapped in his arms, like a
school-boy asleep on his desk-lid. Mr. Flag-
man slowly awoke, and cast off his brother,
and slept again. Cautiously Vermont waited,
to resume his pillow in a quarter of an hour,
and be again cast off.
Mr. Flagman sat up. I asked Mm if there
was a train for Macon going soon. He said:
"The through freight is making up now."
He gave me the conductor's name. I asked
if there was any one about who could write
me a pass to Macon. He said, "The pay car
has just come in, and Mr. Grady can give
you a pass if he wants to/* I went out to the
From a little window at the end of the car
Mr. Grady was paying the interminable sons
of Ham, who emerged from the African night,
climbed the steps, received their envelopes,
and slunk down the steps into the African night.
At last I showed Mr. Grady my letter from
Charles F. Powlison. Mr. Grady did not ap-
pear to be of a religious turn. I asked him
THE MAN WITH APPLE-GREEN EYES 7
permission to ride to Macon in the caboose of
the freight, going out at one o'clock, I as-
sured him it was beneath my dignity to crawl
into the box-car, or patronize the blind bag-
gage, and I was tired of walking in swamp.
Mr. Grady asked, "Are you an official of the
"Then what you ask is impossible, sir/ 9
"Oh, my dear Mr. Grady, it is not im-
"I am glad to have met you, sir. Good-
night, sir," and Mr. Grady had shut the win-
There was the smash, clang, and thud of
making up a train. A negro guided me to
the lantern of a freight conductor. The con-
ductor had the lean frame, the tight jaw, the
fox nose, the Chinese skin of a card-shark.
He would have made a name for himself on
the Spanish Main, some centuries since, by
the cool way he would have snatched jewels
from ladies* ears and smiled when they bled.
He did not smile now. He gripped his lantern
like a cutlass, and the cars groaned. They
were gentlemen in armor compelled to walk
8 A HANDY GJJIDE FOR BEGGARS
the plank by this pirate with the apple-green
eyes. We will call him Mr. Shark.
I put my pious letter into my pocket. "Mr.
Shark, I would like to ride to Macon in the
caboose." Mr. Shark thrust his lantern under
my hat-brim. I had no collar, but was not
ashamed of that. He said, "I have met men
like you before." He turned down the track
shouting orders. I jumped in front of him.
I said, "You are mistaken. You have not
met a man like me before. I am the goods.
I am. the wise boy from New York. I have
been walking in every swamp 111 Florida, eat-
ing dead pig for breakfast, water-moccasins
for lunch, alligators for dinner. I would like
to tell you my adventures."
Mr. Shark ignored me, and went on persecut-
ing the train.
Valdosta was a depot in the midst of dark-
ness. I hated the darkness. I went into the
depot. Vermont was offering Flagman the
bottle. He drank.
Flagman asked me : "Can't you make it?"
"No. Grady turned me down. And the
conductor turned me down."
Mr. Flagman said, "The sure way to ride
THE MAN WITH APPLE-GREEN EYES 29
in a caboose like a gentleman is to ask the
conductor like he is a gentleman, and every-
body else is a gentleman, and when he turns
you down, ask him again like a gentleman."
And much more with that refrain. It was
wisdom lightly given, profounder than it
seemed. Let us remember the tired flagman,
and engrave the substance of his saying on our
I sought the pirate again. I took off my
hat. I bowed like Don Csesar De Bazan,
but gravely. "I ask you, just as one gentle-
man to another, to take me to Macon. I have
friends in Macon."
Mr. Shark showed a pale streak of smile.
"Come around at one o'clock."
My "Thank you" was drowned by a late
passenger. It came from Fargo, for Napoleon
III dismounted. He said: " Hello. Where
are you going, boy?"
"I am just taking the caboose of the through
freight for Macon. But I have a few minutes."
"How the devil did you get here, sir?" I
told him the story in brief. We were in front
of the fire now. "How are you going to make
this next train ? I would like to go with you."
SO A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
I could not tell whether he meant It or not.
Right beside us Mr. Flagman was asleep for
all night, with his elbows on his knees, Ms
chin in his hands. Stretched above Flagman's
back was Mr. Vermont, like a school-boy
asleep on his desk. I said, "Do you see the
gentleman on the bottom of the pile? He Is
the Grand Lama of Caboose ville. You have
to ask him for the password. The man on
top is the sublime sub-Lama."
Napoleon looked dubiously at them, and the
two bottles In the wood-box. He gave me
good words of farewell, finishing with mock-
gravity : "Of course I respect you, sir, in not
giving the password without orders from your
And now I boarded the caboose, hurrying
to surprise the Macon cavalier. He expected
me in three weeks, walking. But the caboose
did one hundred and fifty miles In thirteen
hours, and all the way my heart spun like a
glorified musical top. Alas, this Is a tale of
drink. I filled the coffee-pot and drained it
an Infinite number of times, all because my
poor broken heart was healed. The stove was
the only person in the world out of humor.
THE MAN WITH APPLE-GREEN EYES 31
He was mad because Ms feet were nailed to
the floor. He tried to spill the coffee, and
screamed, "Now you've done It 5 ' every time
we rounded a curve. The caboose-door
slammed open every seven minutes, Shark and
his white man and his negro rushing in from
their all-night work for refreshment.
The manner of serving coffee in a caboose is
this': there are three tin cups for the white
men. The negro can chew sugar-cane, or steal
a drink when we do not look. There is a tin
box of sugar. If one is serving Mr. Shark,
one shakes a great deal of sugar into the cup,
and more down one's sleeve, and into one's
shoes and about the rocking floor. One be-
comes sprinkled like a doughnut, newly-fried,
and fragrant with splashed coffee. The cinders
that come in on the breath of the shrieking
night cling to the person. But if you are
serving Mr. Shark you do not mind these
things. You pour his drink, you eat his bread
and cheese, thanking him from the bottom of
your stomach, not having eaten anything
since the ginger-snaps of long ago. You sol-
emnly touch your cup to his, as you sit with
him on the red disembowelled car cushions,
82 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
with the moss gushing out. You wish him
the treasure-heaps of Aladdin or a racing stable
in Ireland, whichever he pleases.
Let all the readers of this tale who hope to
become Gentlemen of the Road take off collars
and cuffs, throw their purses into the ditch,
break their china, and drink their coffee from
tinware to the health of Mr. Shark, our friend
with the apple-green eyes. Yea, my wanderers,
the cure for the broken heart is gratitude to
the gentleman you would hate, if you had
your collar on or your purse in your pocket
when you met him. Though there was heavy
betting against him, he becomes the Hero in a
whirlwind finish. Patriarch and Flagman dis-
puting for second, decision for Flagman.
THE WOULD-BE MERMAN
MOBS are like the Gulf Stream,
Like the vast Atlantic.
In your fragile boats you ride,
Conceited folk at ease.
Far beneath are dancers,
Mermen wild and frantic,
Circling round the giant glowing
"Crude, ill-smelling voters,
Herds," to you in seeming.
But to me their draggled clothes
Are scales of gold and red.
Ah, the pink sea-horses,
Green sea-dragons gleaming,
And knights that chase the dragons
And spear them till they're dead !
Wisdom waits the diver
In the social ocean
34 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
Rainbow shells of wonder,
Piled into a throne.
I would go exploring
Through, the wide commotion,
Building under some deep cliff
A pearl-throne all my own.
Yesterday I dived there.
Grinned at all the roaring.
Clinging to the corals for a flash,
Mermen canie rejoicing,
In procession pouring,
Yet I lost my feeble grip
And came above for breath.
I would be a merman.
Not in desperation
A momentary diver
Blue for lack of air.
But with gills deep-breathing
Swim amid the nation
Finny feet and hands forsooth.
Sea-laurels in my hair.
THE languid town of Macon, Georgia, will
ever remain in my mind as my first island of
respite after vagrancy. My friend C. D.
Russell lent me Ms clothes, took me to Ms
eating-place, introduced his circle. We settled
the destiny of the universe several different
ways in peripatetic discourse.
After one has ventured one hundred and
fifty miles through everglades and spent twenty-
four sleepless hours riding in freight-cabooses
the marrow of his bones is marsh, his hair and
clothes are moss, cinders and bark, Ms immortal
soul is engine-smoke Feeling just so, I had
entered Russell's law office. He was at court.
I sent word by his partner that I had gone to
school with him in Ohio, that I had mailed a
postal last Sunday from Florida telling Mm I
would arrive afoot in three weeks, but here
I was, already. The word was carried with
36 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
" There is a person In the office who went to
school with you in Indiana. 35
"I did not go to school in Indiana."
tfc He has been walking in Mississippi and
Alabama. He wrote you a postal six weeks
"How does he look?' 5
"Like the devil. He is principally pants and
shirt." < --
The cavalier knew who that was. He found
me, took me to his castle, introduced civiliza-
tion. CIVILIZATION is whiter than the clouds,
and full of clear water. One enters it with a
plunge. CULTUEE is a fuzzy fabric with
which one rubs in CIVILIZATION. After I had
been intimate with these, I was admitted to
SOCIETY: a suit of the cavalier 5 s clothes. I
looked like him then, all but head and hands.
I regarded myself with awe, as a gorilla would
if he found himself fading into a Gibson picture.
A chair is a sturdy creature. I wonder who
captured the first one? Who put out its eyes
and taught it to stand still? A table-cloth is
ritualistic. How nobly the napkin defends the
vest, while those glistening birds, the knife,
the fork, the spoon, bring one food.
How did these things to eat get here among
these hundreds of houses? One would think
that if anything to eat were brought among so
many men, there would be enough hungry ones
to kill each other and spoil it with blood.
Why do people stop eating when they have
had just a bit ? Why not go on forever ?
We were in another room. The cavalier
showed on the table what he called his Bible :
the letters of Lord Chesterfield. To one who
has not slept in all his life, who has lived a
thousand years on freight trains, books do not
count much. But how ingenious is a white
iron bed, how subtle are pillows, how over-
whelming is sleep !
THE FALLS OF TALLULAH
THE CALL OF THE WATER
THE dust of many miles was upon me. I
felt uncouth in the presence of the sun-dried
stones. Here was a natural bathing-place.
Who could resist it?
I climbed further down the canon, holding
to the bushes. The cliff along which the
water rushed to the fall's foot was smooth
and seemed artificially made, though it had
been so hewn by the fury of the cataclysm
in ages past.
I took off my clothes and put my shoulders
against the granite, being obliged to lean
back a little to conform to its angle. I was
standing with my left shoulder almost touch-
ing the perilous main column of water. A
little fall that hurried along by itself a bit
FALLS OF TALLULAH 39
nearer the bank flowed over me. It came with
headway. Though it looked so innocent, I
could scarcely hold up against its power.
But it gave me delight to maintain myself.
The touch of the stone was balm to my walk-
worn body and dust-fevered feet. Like a
sacerdotal robe the water flowed over my
shoulders and I thought myself priest of the
I stepped out into the air. With unwonted
energy I was able to throw off the coldness
of my wet frame. The water there at the
fall's foot was like a thousand elves singing.
"Joy to all creatures !" cried the birds. "Joy
to all creatures! Glory, glory, glory to the
THE PIPING OF PAN
I was getting myself sunburned, stretched
out on the warm dry rocks. Down over the
steep edge, somewhere near the foot of the
next descent I heard the pipes of Pan. Why
should I dress and go?
I made my shoes and clothes into a bundle.
40 A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGARS
and threw them down the cliff and climbed
over, clinging to the steep by mere twigs. I
seemed to hear the piping as I approached
the terrace at the fall's base. Then the sound
of music blended with the stream's strange
voice and I turned to merge myself again with
Against the leaning wall of the cliff I placed
my shoulders. The descending current srnote
me, wrestling with wildwood laughter, threat-
ening to crush me and hurl me to the base of
the mountain. But just as before my feet
were well set in a notch of the cliff that went
across the stream, cut there a million years
It was a curious combination to discover,
this stream-wide notch, and above it this wall
with the water spread like a crystal robe over
it. In the centre of the fall a Cyclops could
have stood to bathe, and on the edge was the
same provision in miniature for feeble man.
And it was the more curious to find this plan
repeated in detail by successive cataracts of
the canon, unmistakably wrought by the slow
hand of geologic ages. And to see the water
of the deep central stream undisturbed in the
THE FALLS OF TALLULAH 41
midst of the fall and still crystalline, and to
see it slide down the steep incline and strike
each, notch at the foot with sudden music and
appalling foam, was more wonderful than the
simple telling can explain.
Each, sheet of crystal that came over my
shoulders seemed now to pour into them rather
than over them. I lifted my mouth and drank
as a desert bird drinks rain. My downstretched
arms* and extended fingers and the spreading
spray seemed one. My heart with its exultant
blood seemed but the curve of a cataract over
the cliff of my soul.
PERIL, VANITY, AND ADORATION
Led by the pipes of Pan, I again descended.
Once more that sound, almost overtaken,
interwove itself with the water's cry, and I
merged body and soul with the stream and the
music. The margin of another cataract crashed
upon me. In the recklessness of pleasure, one
arm swung into the main current. Then the
water threatened my life. To save myself, I
was kneeling on one knee. I reached out
42 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
blindly and found a hold at last in a slippery
cleft, and later, it seemed an age, with the
other hand I was able to reach one leaf. The
leaf did not break. At last its bough was in
my grasp and I crawled frightened Into the
sun. I sat long on a warm patch of grass.
But the cliffs and the water were not really
my enemies. They sent a wind to give me
delight. Never was the taste of the air so sweet
as then. The touch of it was on my lips like
fruit. There was a flattery in the tree-limbs
bending near my shoulders. They said, "There
is brotherhood in your footfall on our roots
and the touch of your hand on our boughs."
The spray of the splashed foam was wine.
I was the unchallenged possessor of all of
nature my body and soul could lay hold upon.
It was the fair season between spring and
summer when no one came to this place. Like
Selkirk, I was monarch of all I surveyed. In
my folly I seemed to feel strange powers creep-
ing into my veins from the sod. I forgot my
near-disaster. I said in my heart, "0 Mother
Earth majestical, the touch of your creatures
has comforted me, and I feel the strength of
the soil creeping up into my dust. From this
THE FALLS OF TALLUIAH 43
patch of soft grass, power and courage come up
Into me from your bosorn, from the foundation
of your continents. I feel within me the soul
of iron from your iron mines, and the soul of
lava from your deepest fires/'
THE BLOOD UNQUENCHABLE
The satyrs in the bushes were laughing at
me and daring me to try the water again.
I stood on the edge of the rapids where were
many stones coming up out of the foam. I
threw logs across. The rocks held them in
place. I lay down between the logs in the
liquid ice. I defied it heartily. And my
brother the river had mercy upon me, and
slew me not.
Amid the shout of the stream the birds were
singing: "Joy, joy, joy to all creatures, and
happiness to the whole earth. Glory, glory,
glory to the wild falls."
I struggled out from between the logs and
threw my bundle over the cliff, and again
descended, for I heard the pipes of Pan, just
below me there, too plainly for delay. They
44 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
seemed to say "Look! Here is a more ex-
The sun beat down upon me. I felt myself
twin brother to the sun. My body was lit
with an all-conquering fever. I had walked
through tropical wildernesses for many a mile,
gathering sunshine. And now in an afternoon
I was gambling my golden heat against the
icy silver of the river and winning my wager,
while all the leaves were laughing on all the
And again I stood in a Heaven-prepared
place, and the water poured in glory upon my
Why was it so dark ? Was a storm coming ?
I was dazed as a child in the theatre beholding
the crowd go out after the sudden end of a
solemn play. My clothes, it appeared, were
half on. I was kneeling, looking up. I counted
the falls to the top of the canon. It was night,
and T had wrestled with them all. My spirit
was beyond all reason happy. This was a day
for which I had not planned. I felt like one
crowned. My blood was glowing like the
blood of the crocus, the blood of the tiger-lily.
- THE FALLS OF TALLULAH 45
And so I meditated, and then at last the chill
of weariness began to touch me and in my
heart I said, "Oh Mother Earth, for all my
vanity, I know I am but a perishable flower in
a cleft of the rock. I give thanks to you
who have fed me the wild milk of this river,
who have upheld me like a child of the gods
throughout this day."
Around a curve in the canon, down stream,
growing each moment sweeter, I heard the
pipes of Pan.
THE GIFT OF TALLULAH
Go, you my brothers, whose hearts are in
sore need of delight, and bathe in the falls of
Tallulah. That experience will be for the
foot-sore a balm, for the languid a lash, for
the dry-throated pedant the very cup of na-
ture. To those crushed by the inventions of
cities, wounded by evil men, it will be a wash-
ing away of tears and of blood. Yea, it will
be to them all, what it was to my heart that
day, the sweet, sweet blowing of the reckless
pipes of Pan.
LET us now recall a certain adventure among
When I walked north from Atlanta Easter
morning, on Peachtree road, orchards were
flowering everywhere. Resurrection songs flew
across the road from humble blunt steeples.
Stony Mountain, miles to the east, Kenesaw
on the western edge of things, and all the rest
of the rolling land made the beginning of a
gradual ascent by which I was to climb the
Blue Ridge. The road mounted the watershed
between the Atlantic and the gulf.
An old man took me into his wagon for a
mile. I asked what sort of people I would
meet on the Blue Ridge. He answered, "They
make blockade whisky up there. But if you
don't go around hunting stills by the creeks,
or in the woods away from the road, they'll
be awful glad to see you. They are all moon-
shiners, but if they likes a man they loves him,
THE GNOME 47
and they're as likely to get to lovin 5 you as
When I was truly In the mountains, six days
north of Atlanta, a day's journey from the last
struggling railway, the road wound into a
certain high, uninhabited valley. Two days
back, at a village I entered just after I had
enjoyed the falls of "Tallulah, I had found a
letter from my new friend John Collier whom
I had met In Macon and Atlanta. It contained
a little money, which he insisted I should take,
to make easier my way. I was inconsistent
enough to spend some of it, instead of return-
ing it or giving it "to the poor/'
I invested seventy-five cents in brogans
made of the thickest leather. I had thought
they were conquered the first day. But now
one of them bit a piece out of my heel. John
Collier has done noble things since. On my
behalf, for instance, he climbed Mount Mitchell
with me, and showed me half the glory of the
South. Then and after, he has helped my
soul with counsel and teaching. But he should
not have corrupted a near-Franciscan with
money for hoodoo brogans. Though it was
fairly warm weather, if ever I rested five
48 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
minutes, the heavy things stiffened like cooling
The little streams I crossed scarcely afforded
me a drink. Their dried borders had the foot-
prints of swine on them.
Lameness affects one's vision. The thick
woods were the dregs of the landscape, fit
haunt for the acorn-grubbing sow. The road
following the ridges was a monster's spine.
Those wicked brogans led me where they
should not. Or maybe It was just my destiny
to find what I found.
About four o'clock in the afternoon, after
exploring many roads that led to futile nothing,
I was on what seemed the main highway, and
dragged myself into the sight of the first mortal
since daybreak. He seemed like a gnome as
he watched me across the furrows. And so
he was, despite his red-ripe cheeks. The
virginal mountain apple-tree, blossoming over-
head, half covering the toad-like cabin, was
out of place. It should have been some fabu-
lous, man-devouring devil-bush from the tropics,
some monstrous work of the enemies of God.
The child, just in her teens, helping the
Gnome to plant sweet potatoes, had in her
THE GNOME 49
life planted many, and eaten few. Or so It
appeared. She was a crouching lump of earth.
Her father dug the furrow. She did the plant-
ing, shovelling the dirt with her hands. Her
face was sodden as any in the slums of Chicago.
She ran to the house a ragged girl, and came
back a homespun girl, a quick change. It
must not be counted against her that she did
not wash her face.
The Gnome talked to me meanwhile. He
had made up his mind about me. "I guess
you want to stay all night ? "
"The next house is fifteen miles away.
You are welcome if what we have is good
enough for you. My wife is sick, but she
will not let you be any bother."
I wanted to be noble and walk on. But I
persuaded myself my feet were as sick as the
woman. I accepted the Gnome's invitation.
Let the readers with a detective instinct note
that his hoe-handle was two feet short, and had
been whittled a little around the top to make
it usable. It was at best an awkward instru-
ment. (The mystery will soon be solved.)
We were met at the door by one my host
50 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
called Brother Joseph a towering shape with,
an upper lip like a walrus, for it was armed
with tusk-like mustaches. He was silent as
But the Gnome said, "I have saved up a
month of talk since the last stranger came
through." With ease, with simplicity of word,
with I know not how much of guile, he gave
fragments of his life : how he had lived in this
log house always, how his first wife died, how
her children were raised by this second wife
and married off, how they now enjoyed this
He showed me the other fragment of the
hoe-handle. "I broke that over a horse's
head the last time I was drunk. I always
get crazy. When I come to, I do not remem-
ber anything about it. The last time I fought
with my cousin. When I knocked down his
horse he drew his knife. I drew this knife.
My wife said I fought like a wild hog. I
sliced my cousin pretty bad. He skipped the
country, for he cut out one of my lungs and
two of my ribs. I lost two buckets of blood.
It took the doctor a long time to put my in-
THE GNOME 51
From this Lour forward lie struggled between
the luxury of being even more confidential,
and the luxury of being cautious like a lynx.
I squirmed. Despite his abandon, he was
I put one hand in my pocket. I found a
diversion, a pair of eyeglasses. I had chanced
on them in the bushes at Tallulah. The droop
of his eyelids as he put them on was exquisite.
He paced the floor. I had a review of his
appearance. He was like a thin twist of
tobacco. He had been burned out by too-
sharp whisky. The babies clapped their hands
as he strutted. He was like a third-rate Sun-
day-school teacher in a frock coat in the presence
of the infant class. He was glad to keep the
glasses, yet asked questions with a double
meaning, implying I had stolen them in At-
lanta, and fled these one hundred miles. We
were gay rogues, and we knew it.
"Get up ! Make some coffee and supper!"
he shouted to the figure on the bed in the
black corner of the cabin. He kept his jaw
tight on his pipe, speaking to her in the gnome
language. She replied in kind, snorting and
muffling her words, without moving lips or
5 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
tongue, and keeping her teeth on her snuff-
stick. She stumbled up, groaning, with both
hands on her head. She had once been a
woman. She had lived with this thing too
long. All the trappings that make for home
had grown stale and weird about her. The
scraps of rag-carpet on the floor were rat
eaten. The red calico window curtains were
vilely dirty from the years of dust and the
leak of many rains. The benches were bat-
tered, unsteady. The door-latch was gone.
The door was held in place by a stone. , She
stood before me, her hair hanging straight across
her face or down her collar, or flying about
or tied behind in a dreadful knot. She stood
before me, but as long as I was in that house
she did not look at me, she did not speak to me.
There was no stove. The Gnome said:
"Wife don't like a stove. She had rather
cook the way she learned." We rolled in the
back-log for her and coaxed up the embers.
We sat at one side of the hearth. We ex-
changed boastful adventures. She crawled into
the fireplace to nurse the corn-bread and coffee
and pork to perfection and place the Dutch
THE GNOME 53
Have you heard your grandmother speak of
the Dutch oven? It Is a squat kettle which
is set in the embers. When it is hot, the biscuit
dough is put in and the lid replaced. Slowly
the biscuits become ambrosia. Slowly the
watching cook is baked.
The Devil was in my host. By his coaxing
hospitality he made it seem natural that a
woman deadly, sick should serve us. The rest
of the family could wait. It did not matter
if the tiny one cried and pulled the mother's
skirt. She smote it into silence and fear, then
carried it to the black corner where the potato
planter herded the rest of the babies, helped
by King Log, the walrus-headed.
The Gnome said, "I quit drinking ever since
I had that fight I told you about. I don't
dare drink. So I take coffee."
You should have seen him flooding himself
with black coffee, drinking from a yellow bowl.
I said to myself: "He will surely turn to the
consolation of liquor anon. He will beat his
wife again. He will drive his children into the
woods. This woman must fight the battle
for her offspring till her black-snake hair is
white. Or maybe that insane knife will go
54 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
suddenly Into her throat. She may die soon
with her hair black, and red."
We ate with manly leisure. We were sated.
The mother prepared the second meal, and
called the group from the black corner. She
made ready her own supper. I see her by
the fire., the heavy arm shielding her face, the
hunched figure a knot of roots, a palpable
mystery about her, making her worthy of a
portrait by some new Rembrandt. It is the
tragic mystery born of the isolation of the
Blue Ridge and the juice of the Indian corn.
Let us not forget the weapon with which she
fights the flame, the quaint long shovel.
Let us watch her at the table, breaking her
corn-bread alone, her puffy eyelids closed,
her cheek-bones seeming to cut through the
skin. There is something of the eagle in her
aspect because of her Roman nose, and her
hands moving like talons. It is not corn-bread
that she tears and devours. She is consuming
her enemies, which are Weariness, Squalor,
Plat and Unprofitable Memory, Spiritual Death.
She is seeking to forget that the light of the
hearthstone that falls on her dirty but beau-
tiful babies is kindled in hell.
THE GNOME 55
The Gnoine spoke of Ms hogs. A Middle
West farmer can talk hogs, and the world will
admire him the more. But a medieval swine-
herd dare not. It is self-betrayal
My host grew affectionate, grandfatherly.
He told of a solid acre of mica on top of a
mountain. He speculated that it was a mile
deep. He put a chunk into my pocket for me
to carry to Asheville to interest great capitalists.
He offered me fifty per cent on the profits.
I took out a copy of the Tree of Laughing
Bells from my pocket. I reviewed the tale
contained in the book, in words I thought the
Gnome would understand. Then he read it
for himself with the "specs." He was proud
of having learned to read out of the Bible,
with 110 schooling.
He seemed particularly impressed with the
length of the journey of the hero of the poem,
who flew "to the farthest star of all." He
looked at me with conceited shrewdness. "I
played hookey myself, when I was a kid. I
rode and walked forty-five miles that day.
I was mighty glad to get back to my mammy
the day after. I never wanted to run away
again." He shook his pipe at me. "You
56 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
are just a run-away boy, that's what you
He said something favorable about me to his
wife, in the gnome language. She stood up.
She shrilled back a caution. She showed her
dirty teeth at him. But there was something
he was bursting to tell me. He was essentially
too reckless to conceal a secret long, even a
life-and-death secret. He began : "I still raise
a little corn."
The Walrus gave a sort of watch-dog bark.
The Gnome reluctantly accepted the caution.
He pointed sharply to the bed farthest from the
black corner of the room.
"That's for you."
"Isn't there a shed or a corn-crib where I
"No, you don't get out of this house to-night.
There aren't any sheds or cribs."
I looked helplessly around that single-roomed
cabin. Not fear, but modesty, overcame me.
I was expected to retire first. But King Log,
the Walrus, perceiving my diffidence, set me
an example. He rapidly hauled a couch off
the porch and tumbled into it, first undressing
as far as his underwear. With a quilt almost
THE GNOME 57
to Ms chin, and covering Ms pretty pink feet,
he was a decent spectacle.
Happily I also wore underwear, and was
soon under my quilt. I stole a look at tie
potato planter. I realized that she was tlie
maiden present. Be pleased, O brothers, to
observe that she has been aware of her age
and state. She has huddled up to the fire,
with her back to us ; she has hidden her face
on her knees. At last she piles ashes on the
embers and finds a place in the black corner
in the cot full of children. Her father and
mother take the cot between.
Next morning was Sunday, a week since
Easter. Only when a man has sadly mangled
feet, and blood heated by many weeks of ad-
venture, can he find luxury such as I found in
the icy stream next morning. The divine rivulet
on the far side of the field had been misnamed
"Mud Creek." It was clear as a diamond.
Always carrying a piece of soap in my hip
pocket, I was able to take a complete scour.
Not content with tMs (pardon me), I did scrub
shirt, socks, underwear, and bandanna. I hung
them on the bushes, thanking God for the wind.
Taking my before-mentioned credentials from
5S A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGAES
my pocket, I made myself Into a gentleman.
When I dressed at last, my clothes were a
little damp, but I knew that an hour's walking
would put all to rights. As I held the bushes
aside I saw a crib-like structure that made me
shake more than the damp clothes. Was it
a still, or was it not a still ?
In my innocence I could not tell. But I
remembered the warning, "Don't go pokin*
round huntin' stills by the creeks."
As I hurried to the house my host carelessly
appeared from the region of my bathing-place.
He was whittling with his historic knife. I
suppose he had noted my actions enough to
restore his confidence. Anyway, the shame of
being unwashed was his only visible emotion.
He said, "I always bathe in hot water."
"So do I, when I am not on the road."
Still he was abashed. He took an enormous
chew of tobacco to vindicate himself.
After breakfast the wife helped the Walrus
to drag the cot out of doors, When she was
alone on the porch I told her how sorry I was
she had been obliged to cook for me. I thanked
her for her toil. But she hurried away, with-
out a pause or a glance. She kissed one of those
miry faced babies. She walked into the house,
leaving me smirking at the hills. She growled
something at the host. He came forth. He
pointed out the road, over the mountains and
far away. He broke off a blossoming apple-
sprig and whittled it.
"So you've been to Atlanta?" he asked.
" I was there once. What hotel did you use ? "
"The Salvation Army."
"I was in the United States Hotel."
Still I was stupid. He continued :
"I was there two years."
He put on his glasses. He threw down the
apple-sprig, and, looking over the glasses, he
made unhappy each blossom in his own peculiar
way. He continued: "I was in the United
States Hotel, for making blockade whisky. I
don't make it any more." He spat again.
"I don't even go fishin' on Sunday unless "
He had made up his mind that I was a cus-
tomer, not a detective.
"Unless a visitor wants a mess of fish."
But I did not want a mess of fish. Re-
peatedly I offered money for my night's lodging.
60 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
This he declined with real pride. He main-
tained his one virtue intact. And so I thought of
him, just as I left, as a man who kept his code.
The John Collier brogans were easier that
morning, partly because I had something new
on my mind, no doubt.
I thought of the Gnome a long time. I
thought of the wife, and wondered at her as
a unique illustration of the tragic mysteries
of the human race. If she screams when seven
devils enter into the Gnome, no one outside
the house will hear but the apple-tree. If she
weeps, only the wind in the chimney will
understand. If she seeks justice and the law,
King Log, the Walrus, is her uncertain refuge.
If she desires mercy, the emperor of that
valley, the king above King Log, is a venomous
serpent, even the Worm of the Still.
But now the road unwound in glory. I
walked away from those serpent-bitten domin-
ions for that time. I was one with the air of
the sweet heavens, the light of the ever-endur-
ing sun, the abounding stillness of the forest,
and the inscrutable Majesty, brooding on the
mountains, the Majesty whom ignorantly we
THE TRAMP'S REFUSAL
On Being Asked by a Beautiful Gipsy to Join her Group
of Strolling Players.
LADY, I cannot act, though I admire
God's great chameleons, Booth-Barret men.
But when the trees are green, my thoughts may
October-red. December comes again
Ajid snowy Christmas there within my breast
Though I be walking in the August dust.
Often my lone contrary sword is bright
When every other soldier's sword is rust.
Sometimes, while churchly friends go up to God
On wings of prayer to altars of delight
I walk and talk with Satan, call him friend,
And greet the imps with converse most polite.
When hunger nips me, then at once I knock
At the near farmer's door and ask for bread.
I must, when I have wrought a curious song
Pin down some stranger till the thing is read.
When weeds choke up within, then look to me
To ghow the world the manners of a weed.
62 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
I cannot change my cloak except my heart
Has changed and set the fashion for the deed.
When love betrays me I go forth to tell
The first kind gossip that too-patent fact.
I cannot pose at hunger, love or shame.
It plagues me not to say : "I cannot act."
I only mourn that this unharnessed me
Walks with the devil far too much each day.
I would be chained to angel-kings of fire.
And whipped and driven up the heavenly way.
THE HOUSE OF THE LOOM
A Story of Seven Aristocrats and a Soap-Kettle.
WITH no sorrow In my heart, with no money
In my pocket, with no baggage but a lunch,
the most dazzling feature of which was a piece
of gingerbread, I walked away from a wind-
swept North Carolina village, one afternoon,
over the mountain ridges toward Lake Toxa-
way. I turned to the right once too often,
and climbed Mount Whiteside. There was a
drop of millions of miles, and a Lilliputian
valley below like a landscape by Charlotte B.
Coman. I heard some days later that once
a man tied a dog to an umbrella and threw
him over. Dog landed safely, barking still.
Dog was able to eat, walk, and wag as before.
But the fate of the master was horrible. Dog
never spoke to him again.
Having no umbrella, I retraced my way.
I stepped into the highway that circumscribes
the tremendous amphitheatre of Cashier's Val-
ley. I met not a soul till eight o'clock that
64 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
night. The mountain laurel, the sardis bloom,
the violet, and the apple blossom made glad
the margins of the splendidly built road ; and,
as long as the gingerbread lasted, I looked
upon these things in a sort of sophisticated
This was because the gingerbread was given
me by a civilized man, to whom John Collier
had written for me a letter of introduction:
Mr. Thomas G. Harbison, Botanical Collector ;
American tree seeds a specialty.
Back there by the village he was improving
the breed of mountain apples by running a
nursery. He was improving the children with
a school he taught without salary, and was
using the most modern pedagogy. Something
in his manner made me say, "You are like a
doctor out of one of Ibsen's plays, only you
are optimistic." Then we talked of Ibsen.
He debated art versus science, he being a
science-fanatic, I an art-fanatic. He concluded
the argument with these words: "You are
bound to be wrong. I am bound to be wrong.
What is the use of either of us judging the
other?*' That is not the mountain way of
ending a discussion.
THE HOUSE OF THE LOOM 65
For the purposes of the tale, as well as for
Bis own merits, we must praise this civilized
man who entertained me a day and a half so
well. His mountain cottage was a permanent
civilized camp. Without intruding on his
privacy, we can show what that means. Cross
a few states to the west with me.
Have you watched the camps of the up-to-
date visitors, in the oldest parts of Colorado?
They begin with tent, axe, blanket, bacon, and
frying-pan, as miners do. In ten summers,
though they climb as much as the miners,
wear uglier boots, and rougher clothes, their
tents are highly organized. They are conven-
ient and free from clutter as the best New
York flat. The axe has multiplied rustic
benches, bridges, shelters. It has made a
refrigerator in the stream. The frying-pan
has changed into a camp-stove and a box of
white granite dishes. The blanket flowers and
Mariposa lilies that made the aspen groves
celestial have been gathered in jardinieres.
Meanwhile, in the big houses of the veteran
miners of the villages are the axe, the blanket,
and the frying-pan, though their lords have
been through half a dozen fortunes since
66 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGAES
pioneer days. Those houses have the single
great advantage of a rich tradition. They
seem to grow up out of the ground.
Musing these matters, I munched my ginger-
bread, walking past sweet waterfalls, groves of
enormous cedars, many springs, and one de-
serted cabin. I was homesick for that great
civilized camp, New York, and the sober-
minded pursuit of knowledge there.
But civilization lost her battle at twilight,
when I swallowed my last gingerbread crumb.
Immediately I was in the land beyond the
nowhere place, willing to sleep twelve hours
by a waterfall, or let the fairies wake me before
day. The road went deeper into savagery.
I blundered on, rejoicing in the fever of weari-
ness. In the piercing light of the young stars,
the house that came at last before me seemed
even more deeply rooted in the ground than
the oaks around it. What new revelation
lies here? Knock, knock, knock, my soul,
and may Heaven open a mystery that will give
the traveller a contrite heart.
Let us tell a secret, even before we enter.
If, with the proper magic in our minds, we were
guests here, a year or a day, we might write
THE HOUSE OP THE LOOM 67
the world's one unwritten epic. All day, in
one of these tiny rooms, amid appointments
that fill the spirit with the elation o simple
things, we would write. At evening we would
dream the next event by the fire. The epic
would begin with the opening of the door.
There appeared a military figure, with a
face like Henry living's in contour, like
Whistler's in sharpness, fantasy, and pride.
"May I have a night's lodging? I have no
"Come in. ... We never turn a man
We were inside. He asked: "What might
be your name?" I gave it. He gave his.
The circle by the fire did not turn their heads,
but presumably I was introduced. One child
ran into the kitchen. My host gave me her
chair. All looked silently into the great soap-
kettle in the midst of the snapping logs.
I have a high opinion of the fine people of
the South, and gratefully remember the scatter-
ing of gentlefolk so good as to entertain me in
their mansions. But in this cottage, with one
glance at those fixed, flushed faces, I said:
"This is the best blood I have met in this
68 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
United States." The five cMldren were night-
blooming flowers. There were Mnts of Dore
In the shadow of the father, cast against the
log walls of the cabin. He sat on the 'little
stairway. He was a better Don Quixote than
Dore ever drew.
I said, "Every middle-aged man I have met
in Florida, Georgia, and North Carolina has
been a soldier, and I suppose you were."
He looked at me long, as though the obliga-
tion of hospitality did not involve conversa-
tion. He spoke at last : " I fought, but I could
not help it. It was for home, or against home.
I fought for this cabin."
"It is a beautiful cabin."
He relented a bit. "We have kept it just
so, ever since my great-grandfather came here
with Ms pack-mule and made Ms own trail.
I I hated the war. "We did not care any-
thing about the cotton and niggers of the fire-
eaters. The niggers never climbed this Mgh."
I changed the subject. "TMs is the largest
fireplace I have seen in the South. A man
could stand up in it/ 5
He stiffened again. "This is not the South.
This is the Blue Ridge"
HOUSE OP THE LOOM 69
An inner door opened. It was plain the
woman wlio stood there was Ms wife. She
had the austere mouth a wife's passion gives.
She had the sweet white throat of her
youth, that made even the candle-flame re-
joice. She looked straight at me, with ink-
black eyes. She was dumb, like some one
struggling to awake.
"Everything is ready ," she said at length to
He turned to me: "Your supper is now in
the kitchen, 'if what we have is good enough. 3 9S
It was the usual formula for hospitality.
I turned to the wife. "My dear woman, I
did not know that this was going on. It is
not right for you to set a new supper at this
hour. I had enough on the road."
"But you have walked a long way. 35 Then
she uttered the ancient proverb of the Blue
Ridge. " C A stranger needs takin' care of. 5 "
In the kitchen there was a cook-stove.
Otherwise there was nothing to remind one of
the world this side of Beowulf. I felt myself
in a stronghold of barbarian royalty.
"Do you do your own spinning and weav-
TO A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
Slie lifted the candle, lighting a corner.
"Here are the cards and the wools, 5 * She
held it higher. " There is the spinning wheel.'*
"Where is the loom?"
"Up stairs, just by where you will sleep/ 9
I knew that if there was a loom, it was a
magic one, for she was a witch of the better
sort, a fine, serious witch, and a princess withal.
Her ancestors wore their black hair that simple
way when their lords won them by fighting
dragons. She was prouder than the pyramids.
If the epic is ever written, let it tell how the
spinner of the wizard wools did stand to serve
the stranger, that being the custom of her
house. This was a primitive camp indeed.
There was no gingerbread. There was not one
thing to remind me of the last table at which
I had eaten. But every gesture said, "Good
prince, you are far from your court. There-
fore, this, our royal trencher, is yours. May
you find your way to your own kingdom In
peace." But for a long time her lips were
still. She had the spareness of a fertile, toiling
mother. And, ah, the motherhood in her
voice when she said at last, "My son, you are
HOUSE OF LOOM 71
Let the epic tell that, when the stranger
returned to the fireplace, a restless, expectant
silence settled down upon the circle. There
was portent in the hiss of the flames. When I
spoke to the children they only stared at me
as at a curious shadow. Their lips moved not.
The eldest, about seventeen, had inherited, no
doubt, his love of strange brewing. He looked
sideways into the soap-kettle. I said to my-
self, "He sees more hippogriffs than steam-
engines." He eyed every move of the circle
with restless approval or disapproval. Every
chip his little brother threw on the fire seemed
to be a symbol of some precious thing sacrificed,
every curl of steam seemed to have something
to do with the destiny of the house.
He took out of his pocket a monthly magazine.
It was the sort that costs ten cents a year.
No doubt, had he gone to school to the admir-
able man who gave me gingerbread, he would
have learned to read scientific and technical
monthlies. But a magazine of any sort is a
terribly intrusive thing at this juncture. The
boy, and a sister just a little younger, read in
a loud whisper to one another an advertise-
ment they did not want me to hear. At their
7 A HAXDY GUIDE FOR BEGGAES
stage of culture It was Impossible to read
silently. The advertisement, if I remember,
went about this way :
"Free, free, free ! A sewing machine ! Send
us a two-cent stamp, your name and address,
mentioning the name of this magazine. We
will tell you how to get an up-to-date sewing
machine absolutely free. This offer Is good
for thirty days."
They wrote a most unscholarly letter, spell-
ing it aloud. It required their total and
united culture to produce it. When the girl
returned to the fire, she was provoked by her
pride Into an astonishing flush. How it set
off her temples, with their pattern of azure
veins ! With her lotus-leaf hands, the hands
of Hathor, goddess of love, she cooled her
cheeks again and again. There Is something
of breeding In the very color of blood. Come,
brothers of the road, all who travel with me in
fancy, will you not join the knighthood of the
soap-kettle? Conie, ladies in mansions,, will
you not be one with us? None of you could
have gainsaid the maiden-in-chief of the as-
sembly. She wore her homespun as Zenobia,
princess of Palmyra, wore her splendors. With
THE HOUSE OF THE LOOM 73
her arms around her two gypsy younger sisters
she smiled at last into the soap-kettle. When
the epic is written, let it use words of marvel-
ling, speaking of her hair, so pale, so electrical,
set in a thick, ingenious coronal.
All the little children stood up. "Uncle,"
they shouted. Hoofs sounded by the door.
A man entered without knocking. "When he
saw me he became ceremonious as a Mandarin.
"This is a traveller," said my host.
The messenger indulged in inquiries about
my welfare, journey, and destination. My host
"How's mother? We have watched late to
"She is much worse." And the messenger
went on to say that she might not live two
days, and the doctor was a careless, indifferent
dog, treating her as though she were an ordinary
"Does he still give her strychnine?"
"He won't deny it." The messenger ex-
plained that the doctor thought strychnine in
small doses was good for old people. The
scientist who gave me gingerbread should have
been there to champion the doctor. In the
74 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
eyes of Ms judges that night he was suspected
of poisoning or treating with criminal folly,
The younger doctor was miles away, and
might refuse to make the trip. The two loyal
sons seemed paralyzed because the time for
decision and the time for mourning came to-
gether. There were long silences, interrupted
by my host repeating in a sort of primitive
song, "1 can't think of anything except my
dying mother. I can't think of anything except
mother is going to die."
At last, with his brother's consent, the
messenger galloped and galloped away, to
find his only hope, the younger physician.
As the wife gave me the candle, sending me
up stairs, I looked back at the family circle.
Helpless grief made every face rigid. I
looked again at the eldest daughter. The
moving shadows embroidered on her breast
intricate symbols of the fair years, passing by
In the ghost of tapestry, things that happened
in the beginning of the world. Let the epic
tell that when the stranger slept there was a
magic loom by his bed that wove that history
again in valiant colors, showing battles without
HOUSE OF THE LOOM 75
number, and sieges, and interminable sunny
love-tales, and lotus-handed ladies whispering
over manuscript things too fine to be told,
and ruddy warriors sitting at watch-fires on
battlements eternal; and let the epic tell
how, in the early dawn, the stranger half
awoke, yet saw this tapestry hung round the
walls. If one could remember every story for
which the pictures stood, he might indeed
write the world's unwritten epic. The last
tapestry to be hung changed from gold to
black warp and woof upon which was written
that because of a treacherous prime minister
who served a poisoned wine, the Empress of the
White Witches was perishing before her time,
and the young wizard, with the counter-spell,
was riding night and day, but all the palace
knew he would arrive too late.
At breakfast the faces were stolid and white
as frost. The father answered me only when
I said good-by.
He said he hardly knew whether I had had
anything to eat, or whether any one had been
good to me. "You just had to take care of
yourself." The son, feeling the demand of
hospitality in his father's voice, walked to the
76 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGAES
road with me. He asked if I was walking to
"Yes, by way of Mount Toxaway and
He told me it was good walking all the way,
and added, in a difficult burst of confidence,
"I am going to Asheville."
"Why not come along with me?" I asked.
I meant It heartily.
He said he had to take horseback, and then
the railway. He had to be there to-morrow.
"What's the hurry?"
"I have to witness in a whisky case, an
internal revenue case."
He said it like a Spanish Protestant called
before the inquisition.
I said to my soul : "These were the revela-
tions of a night and a morning. What deeper
troubles were in the House of the Loom that
you did not know?"
All through the country there had been that
night what is called a black frost. By the
roadside it was deep and white as the wool on
a sheep. But it left things blighted and black,
and destroyed the chances of the fruit-bearing
THE HOUSE OF THE LOOM 77
trees. All the way to Mount Toxaway I
met scattered mourners of the ill-timed visita-
But the simple folly of spring was in me,
and the strange elation of gratitude. My soul
said within itself : "A money-claim has definite
limits, but when will you ever discharge your
obligation to the proud and the fine in the
House of the Loom? You intruded on their
grief. Yet they held their guest sacred as their
WOULD that the joy of living came to-day,
Even as sculptured on Athena's shrine
In sunny conclave of serene design,
Maidens and men, procession flute and feast,
By Phidias, the ivory-hearted priest
Of beauty absolute, whose eyes the sun
Showed goodlier forms than our desires can
And more of happiness.
MAN, IN THE CITY OP COLLARS
A Not Very Tragic Belapse into the Toils of the World,
and of Finance.
HAVING been properly treated as a bunco
man by systematic piety in a certain city further
south, I had double-barrelled special recom-
mendations sent to a lofty benevolence in
Asheville, from a religious leader of New York,
the before-mentioned Charles F. Powlison.
It was with confidence that I bade good-by
to the chicken-merchant who drove me into
the city. I entered the office of the black-
coated, semi-clerical gentleman who had re-
ceived the Powlison indorsements. My stick
pounded his floor. The heels of my brogans
made the place resound. But he gave all
official privileges. He received me with the
fine manly handclasp, the glitter of teeth, the
pat on the back. He insisted I use the shower
bath, writing room, reading table. Then I
suggested a conference among a dozen of his
80 A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGARS
devouter workers on the relation of the sense
of Beauty to their present notion of Christianity
or, if he preferred, a talk on some aspect of art
to a larger group.
He took me into his office. He shut the door.
He was haughty. He made me haughty. I
give the conversation as it struck me. He
probably said some smart things I do not
recall. But I remember all the smart things
He denounced labor agitators in plain words.
I agreed. I belonged to the brotherhood of
those who loaf and invite their souls.
He spoke of anarchy. I maintained that I
loved the law.
He very clearly, and at length, assaulted
Single Tax, I knew nothing then of Single
Tax, and thanked him for light. He denounced
Socialism. Knowing little about Socialism at
that time, I denounced it also, having just
"been converted to individualism by a man in
The religious leader spoke of his long experi-
ence with bunco men. I insisted I wanted not
a cent from him, I was there to do him good.
I had letters of introduction to two men in the
MAN, IN THE CITY OF COLLARS 81
city; one of them, an active worker in the
organization, had already been in to identify
me, A third man was coming to climb Mount
Mitchell with me.
He doubted that I was a bona fide worker
in his organization. Then came my only long
speech. We will omit the speech. But he
began to see light. He took a fresh grip on
his argument. He said: "There is a man
here in Asheville I see snooping around with a
tin box and a butterfly net. They call him the
state something-ologist. He goes around and
and hunts bugs. But do you want to know
what I think of a crank like that?" I wanted
to know. He told me.
"But/ 5 I objected, "I am not a scientist. I
am an art student."
He expressed an interest in art. He gave
a pious and proper view of the nude in art. It
took some time. It was the sort of chilly,
cautious talk that could not possibly bring a
blush to the cheek of ignorance. I assured
him Ms decorous concessions were unnecessary.
I was not expounding the nude.
There was an artist here, and Asheville
needed no further instruction of the kind, he
8 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
maintained. The gentleman had won some
blue ribbons in Europe. He painted a big
picture (dimensions were given) and sold it for
thousands (price was given).
"He is holding the next one, two feet longer
each way, for double the money."
I told him if he felt there was enough art in
Asheville, we might do something to popularize
In reply he talked about literary cranks.
He spoke of how Thoreau, with his long hair
and ugly looks, frightened strangers who sud-
denly met him in the woods. I thanked him
for light on Thoreau. . . . But he had to
admit that my hair was short.
He suspected I was neither artist nor literary
man. I assured him my friends were often of
the same opinion.
"But," he said bitterly, "do you know sir,
by the tone of letters I received from Mr. PowK-
son I expected to assemble the wealth and
fashion of Asheville to hear you. I expected to
see you first in your private car, wearing a
I answered sternly, "Art, my friend, does
not travel in a Pullman."
MAN, IN THE CITY OF COLLARS 83
He threw off all restraint. "Old shoes," lie
said, "old shoes/ 5 He pointed at them.
"I have walked two hundred miles among
the moonshiners. They wear brogans like
these." But his manner plainly said that his
organization did not need cranks climbing over
the mountains to tell them things.
"Your New York letter did not say you were
walking. It said you 'would arrive.'"
He began to point again. "Frayed trousers !
And the lining of your coat in rags !"
"I took the lining of the coat for necessary
"A blue bandanna round your neck ! 5 '
"To protect me from sunburn."
He rose and hit the table. "And no collar I "
"Oh yes, I have a collar. 55 I drew it from
my hip pocket. It had had a two hundred
mile ride, and needed a bath.
"I should like to have it laundered, but I
haven 5 t the money/ 5
"Get the money."
"No, 55 1 said, "but I will get a collar. 55
I entered a furnishing and tailor shop around
the corner. I asked for the proprietor. He
showed me collars.
84 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
"Two for a quarter?"
"'Now I have here a little brochure I sell for
twenty-five cents. In fact it is a poem, well
worth the money. I will let you have it for
half price, that is, one collar."
"We are selling collars."
"I am selling the poem/*
I turned my Ancient Mariner eye on him.
I recited the most mesmeric rhymes.
He repeated, "We are selling collars."
Evidently the eye was out of order. I tried
"Don't you think I need a collar?"
"Don't you think this one would fit this
"I renew my offer."
He sternly put the box away.
So I said, "If I must face my friends in
Asheville without this necessary ornament, you
shall blush. I have done my duty, and refuse
I looked up a scholar from Yale, Yutaka
Minakuchi, friend of old friends, student of
MAX, IN THE CITY OF COLLARS 85
philosophy, In which he Instructed me much,
first lending me a collar. He became my host
in Asheville. It needs no words of mine to
enhance the fame of Japanese hospitality. . . .
And I had a friend in a distant place, whom,
for fancy's sake, we will call the Caliph Haroun-
al-Raschid. Let him remain a mystery. We
will reveal this much. Had he known the
truth, he would have sent Greek slaves riding
on elephants, laden with changes of raiment.
He discerned, at least, that I was In a barbarous
land, for at length a long package containing
a sword arrived from the court of the Caliph
(to speak in parables) . I exchanged the weapon
at a pawnshop for money, all in one bill money
against which I had so many times sworn
eternal warfare, which had been my hoodoo
in the past, and was destined to be again. But
this time, such are the whims of fate, the little
while it was with me it brought me only good.
I entered the furnishing store. The pro-
prietor was terribly busy, but my glittering
eye was In condition. I persuaded him, by
dint of repetition, to show me his collars. I
treated him as though we had not met.
"Fifteen cents apiece?"
86 A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGAES
"I will take one" I gave the bill. He had
to send a boy out for the change. I put the
silver in my pocket, and rattled it. He wrapped
up the collar, while I studied his cheeks. He
blushed like a maid, bless his tender heart, and
in his sweet confusion he knew that I knew it.
The streets of Asheville kept shouting to me :
"Let us praise Man, when he builds cities, and
grows respectable, and cringes to money, and
becomes a tailor, and loves collars with all
WOTTLD we were scholars of Confucius* time
Watching the feudal China crumbling down.
Frightening our master, shaking many a crown,
Until he makes more firm the father sages,
Restoring custom from the earliest ages
With prudent sayings, golden as the sun.
Lord, show us safe, august, established ways,
Fill us with yesterdays.
THE OLD LADY AT THE TOP OF THE
IT was a bland afternoon. I had been cross-
ing a green valley in North Carolina. Every
man I passed had that languid leanness slander-
ously attributed to the hookworm by folk who
have no temperament. Yet some bee of indus-
try must have stung these fellows into inter-
mittent effort this morning, yesterday, last
week or last year.
Here were reasonably good barns. Here
were fences, and good fences at that. Here
were mysterious crops, neither cotton nor corn.
One man was not ploughing with a mule. No,
sir. He was ploughing with a sort of horse. . . .
At last I mounted the northern rim of the
circle of steep hills that kept the place as sepa-
rate from the rest of the world as a Chinese
wall. I met her on the crest. She advanced
slowly, looking on the ground, leaning at the
hips as do the very aged, but not grotesquely.
Her primly made dress and sunbonnet were
OLD LADY AT THE TOP OF THE HILL 89
dull dark blue. With her walking-stick she
meditatively knocked the little stones from
her path. The staff had a T-shaped head. It
was the cane Old Mother Hubbard carries in
the toy book.
And now she looked up and said with a
pleasant start, "Why, good evening, young
"Good evening, kind lady."
"Where have you been, my son?"
"Why, I am following my nose to the end
of the world. I have just walked through this
She looked into the dust and meditated
awhile. Then she said : "It's getting late.
No one has let you in?"
"How about that house by the bridge?"
She pointed with her cane.
"The lady said she had a sick child."
" Nonsense, nonsense. Do you see that little
Ardella by that corner of the ploughed field
near the house? She don't run like a sick
child. . . . Did you ask at the next place, the
one that has a green porch?" She pointed
again with her cane.
90 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
"The woman said she had no spare bed/ 5
"But she has. I slept in it last week. . . .
And that last house before you start up this
"The woman said she had to take care of
"Did she tell you that?"
The old lady ruminated again, leaning on
her stick. At length she said: "Sit down.
I want to tell you something." There we
were, Grandmother and newly adopted grand-
son, on a big sunlit rock.
I give only the spirit of her words. She
discoursed in that precious mountain dialect,
so mediaeval, so Shakespearean with its sur-
prising phrases that seem at first the slang of
a literary clan, till one learns they are the
common property of folk that cannot read. It
is a manner of speech all too elusive. Would
that I had kept a note-book upon it ! But
somewhat to this intent she spoke, and in a
tone gentler than her words :
"They thought I would never find out about
this, or they would not have treated you so.
That woman in the last house is my daughter-
OLD LADY AT THE TOP OF THE HILL 91
in-law. She lias only two saw-mill hands, and
they're no trouble. That's my house anyway.
It was my mother's before me. No one dares
turn strangers away when I am there. There's
an empty bed up stairs, and another in the hall."
She turned about and pointed in the direction
in which I had been walking. "Just ahead of
you, around that clump of trees, is a hospitable
family. If they will not take care of you, it is
because they have a good excuse. If they
cannot take you in, ask no further. Come
back to my place, and" (she spoke with a
Colonial Dame air) " I will make you welcome"
"What sort of mountaineer is this?" I
asked myself. "The hospitality is the usual
thing, but the grandeur is exotic."
We chatted awhile of the sunset. Then I
accompanied her to the edge of the hill.
Under her sacred hair her face retained girl-
contours. The wrinkles were not too deep.
She seemed not to have changed as mothers
often do, when, under decades of inevitable
sorrow, the features are recarved into the special
mask of middle age, and finally into the very
different mask of senility. She had yet the
authority of Beauty. She wore her white "hair
9^ A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGARS
with a Quakerish-feminine skill most admirably
adapted to that ancient forehead. I divined
she had learned that at sixteen. What a long
time to be remembering.
We were spirits that at once met and under-
stood. She said: "My son, I have walked
all my life across this valley, or up this hill, or
toward that green mountain where you are
going. I never walked as far as I wanted to.
But walking even so short a path makes for
Now she laid aside antique grandeur and took
on plain vanity.
"Do you know how old I am?"
"I'm ninety-two years old, young man, and
I'm going to live ten years more."
It was getting late. I said, " I am glad indeed
to have met you/'
She answered, "I am sorry my valley has
not been kind."
I ventured to ask, "So it's your valley?"
I had touched a raw nerve. I was com-
pletely shaken by the suddenness of her answer,
"Mine! Mine! Mine!" she shrieked.
Kneeling, she beat up the dust of the road
OLD LADY AT THE TOP OF THE HILL 93
with her cane. And then "Mine! Mine!
Mine!" shaking her outstretched arms over
that amphitheatre, as though she would drag
it all to her breast.
She was out of breath and trembling* At
length she smiled, and added so quietly it
seemed another person. "And they shall not
take it away from me."
I helped her to her feet. She was once more
the Martha Washington sort. * . , I remem-
ber her last sentence. In a royal tone, that was
three times an accolade, in a motherly tone
that was caressing and slow she half -sung the
pretty words :
"Good evening, young man. I wish you
The man at the next house took me in. In
the course of the evening he assured me that
the old lady did own the valley, and that she
ruled it with a rod of iron. The family grave-
yard was full of heirs who had grown to old
age and died of old age hoping in vain to out-
live, and to inherit her authority.
WITH A ROSE, TO BRUNHILDE
, with the young Norn soul
That has no peace, and grim as those
That spun the thread of life, give heed :
Peace is concealed in every rose.
And in these petals peace I bring :
A jewel clearer than the dew :
A perfume subtler than the breath
Of Spring with which it circles you.
Peace I have found, asleep, awake,
By many paths, on many a strand.
Peace overspreads the sky with stars.
Peace is concealed within your hand.
And when at night I clasp it there
I wonder how you never know
The strength you shed from finger-tips :
The treasure that consoles me so.
Begin the art of finding peace,
Beloved : it is art, no less.
WITH A ROSE, TO BRTJNHILDE 95
Sometimes we find it bid beneath.
The orchards in their springtime dress :
Sometimes one finds it in oak woods,
Sometimes in dazzling mountain-snows ;
In books, sometimes. But pray begin
By finding it within a rose.
LADY IRON-HEELS 1
THE SEVEN SUSPICIONS
ONE Saturday in May I was hurrying from
mountainous North Carolina into mountainous
Tennessee. Because of my speed and air of
alarm, I was followed by the Seven Suspicions.
I was either a revenue detective in pursuit
of moonshiners, or a moonshiner pursued by
revenue detectives, or a thief hurrying out of
hot territory, or a deputy sheriff pursuing a
thief, or a pretended non-combatant hurrying
toward a Tennessee feud, actually an armed
1 In the prose sketches in this book I have allowed myself
a story-teller's license only a little. Sometimes a considerable
happening is introduced that came the day before, or two days
after. In some cases the events of a week are told in reverse
Lady Iron-Heels is obviously a story, but embodies my exact
impression of that region in a more compressed form than a
note-book record could have done.
The other travel-narratives are ninety-nine per cent literal
fact and one per cent abbreviation.
LADY IRON-HEELS 07
recruit, or I had just killed my family's heredi-
tary enemy and was eluding his avengers, or I
had bought some moonshine whisky and was
trying to get out of a bad region before night-
fall. These suspicions implied that the inhab-
itants admired me. Yet I hurried.
I came upon one article of my creed, the very
next day, Sunday. But Saturday was a season
of panic, preparation, and trial.
The article of my creed that I won as my re-
ward might be stated in this fashion: "Peace
is to be found, even in a red and bleeding rose"
I was accustomed to the feudist and the
assassin. Such people had been good to me,
and I had walked calmly through their haunts.
But now the smothering landscape seemed to
double every natural fear. The hills were so
steep and so close together that only the in-
domitable com and rye climbed to the top
to see the sun. The road was in the bed of a
scolding rivulet. People in general travelled
horseback. Cross-logs for those afoot bridged
high above the streams every half mile. There
was a primeval something about the heavy
chains of the cross-logs, binding them to the
trees, that suggested the forgotten beginning
98 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
of an iron people, some harsh iron- willed Sparta.
This impression was strengthened by the un-
painted dwellings, hunched close to the path,
with thick walls to resist siege.
What first fixed these outlaws here, as in a
nest, with a ring of houseless open country
round them? A traveller was more shut from
the horizon than in the slums of Chicago. The
road climbed no summits. It writhed like a
snake. And there were snakes sunning them-
selves on every other cross-log. And there was
never a flower to be seen.
An old woman, kindly enough, gave this
beggar a noon-meal for the asking, but the land-
scape had struck into me so I almost feared to
eat the bread. For this fear I sternly blamed
my perverse imagination. Refreshed in body
only, I crept like a fascinated fly, dragged by
occult force toward a spider's den. I felt as
though I had reached the very heart of the
trap when I stepped into the streets of the pro-
fane village of Flagpond, Tennessee.
It was early in the afternoon. The feudal
warriors had come to the place on horseback,
dressed in poverty-stricken Saturday finery:
clothes tight and ill-dyed, with black felt hats
LADY IRON-HEELS 99
that should hare slouched, but did not. The
Immaculate rims stood out in queer precision.
The wearers sat in front of the three main stores,
looking across the street at one another. Since
there was no woman in sight, every one knew
that the shooting might begin at any time.
The silence was deadly as the silence of a plague.
I checked my pace. I ambled in a leisurely way
from store to store, inquiring the road to Cum-
berland Gap, the distance to Greenville, and the
Uke. I was on the other side of the circle of
dwellings pretty soon, followed by the Seven
Suspicions, shot from about seventy-five lean
countenances, which makes about five hundred
and twenty-five suspicions.
One of the most indescribable and haunting
things of that region was that all the women
and children were dressed in a certain dead-
About four o'clock I had made good my
escape. I had begun to mount rolling, un-
inhabited hills. At twilight I entered a plain,
and felt a new kind of civilization round me.
It would have been shabby in Indiana. Here
it was glorious. They had whitewashed fences,
and white-painted cottages, glimmering kindly
100 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
through the dusk. Some farm machinery was
rusting In the open. I climbed a last year's
straw-stack, and slept, with acres of stars pour-
ing down peace.
THE TAILOR AND THE FLORIST
Now the story begins all over again with
the episode of the well-known tailor and the
unknown florist. Just off the main street of
Greenville, Tennessee, there is a log cabin with
the century old inscription, ANDREW JOHNSON,
TAILOR. That sign is the fittest monument to
the indomitable but dubious man who could not
cut the mantle of the railsplitter to fit him. I
was told by the citizens of Greenville that there
was a monument to their hero on the hill. So
I climbed up. It was indeed wonderful a
weird straddling archway, supporting an obelisk.
The archway also upheld two flaming funeral
urns with buzzard contours, and a stone eagle
preparing to screech. There was a dog-eared
scroll inscribed, "His faith in the people never
wavered." Around all was, most appropriately,
a spiked fence.
LADY IRON-HEELS 101
But I was glad I came, because near the
Tailor's resting-place was a Florist's grave, on
which depends the rest of this adventure, and
which reaches back to the beginning of it. It
had a wooden headstone, marked "John Kenton
of " Flagpond, Florist. 1870-1900." And in
testimony to his occupation, a great rosebush
almost hid the inscription. Any man who
could undertake to sell flowers in Flagpond
might have it said of him also, "His faith in
the people never wavered."
And now in my tramping the spirit of John
Kenton, or some other Florist, seemed to lead
me. My season of panic, preparation, and trial
was over. It was indeed Sunday on this planet
for awhile. I passed bush after bush of the
same sort as that marking Kenton's place of
sleep. The sight of them was all that I had to
give me strength till noon. I had had neither
breakfast nor supper. People would have fed
this poor tramp, but I love sometimes the
ecstasy that comes with healthy fasting. And
now that I reflect upon it, it was indeed ap-
propriate that the Religion of the Rose should
begin with abstinence.
I have burdened you further back with an
102 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
elaborate description of the landscape of Flag-
pond. Now that landscape was repeated with
the addition of roses. And what a difference they
made! They quenched the Seven Suspicions.
They made gray dresses seem rather tolerable.
On either side loomed the steepest cornfields
yet, but they did not make me tremble now.
At noon I turned aside where a log cabin on
stilts, leaning against its own chimney, stood
astride a little gully. It was about as big as a
dove-cote. Straggling rose-hedges led to the
green-banked spring at the foot of a ladder that
took the place of steps. The old lady that came
to the door was a dove in one respect only ; she
was dressed in gray.
She was drawn to the pattern of the tub-like
peasants of the German funny paper Simpli-
dssimus. I told her my name was Nicholas.
She took it for granted that I wanted my dinner,
and asked me up the ladder without ado. She
did an unusual thing. She began to talk family
affairs. "You must be kin to Lawyer Nicholas
of Flagpond. . . . He defended my son ten
years ago ... in a trial for murder."
I said: "I am no kin to Lawyer Nicholas,
but I hope he won his case."
LADY IRON-HEELS 103
"No. My son Is In the state's prison for
life. . . . He surely killed Florist Kenton/*
But she added, as if it nullified all guilt, "they
were both drunk."
She was busy cooking at the open fireplace.
She turned to the boy, about ten years old.
"Call your Ma and your Aunt to dinner." He
climbed the steep and shouted. Presently two
figures came over the ridge. The larger woman
took the boy's hand.
" Thafs my daughter-in-law, the boy's mother"
said Mrs. Simplicissimus.
I judged the second figure to be a woman of
about twenty-eight. She carried a fence-rail
on her shoulder. She was straight as an
Indian. The old woman said : " Thafs my
daughter. She was going to marry John Ken-
ton." The only influences that could have
induced a mountain-woman to unburden so
much, were the roses, just outside the door,
leaping in the wind.
The procession soon reached us. The wood-
carrier threw the log into the yard. "There's
firewood/ 5 she sang. She vaulted over the
fence, displaying iron-heeled brogans, thick red
stockmgs s and a red-lined skirt. There was a
104 A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGAES
smear of earth on cheek and chin. Her face
was a sunburned, dust-mired roseleaf. She
swept off her hat. She bowed ironically. She
said : "Howdy. What might be your name ? "
I did not tell my name.
She fell on her knees. She drank from her
hands at the spring. I could feel the cold water
warring with the sunshine in her sinews. She
would never have done with splashing eyelids
and ears, and cheeks and red arms and throat.
The rosebushes behind her leaped in the wind.
The boy and his mother and the grandmother
knelt at that same place and splashed after that
same manner. Then the grandmother nudged
"Wash/ 5 she said.
We climbed into that dove-cote block-house
on stilts. We ate like four plough-horses and a
colt. We consumed corn-bread and fat pork,
then corn-bread and beans, then corn-bread
and butter. I ate supper, breakfast, and
dinner in three quarters of an hour.
lADY IRON-HEELS 105
A BRIEF SIESTA
Working a farm of fields that stand on edge,
without men to help, and without much ma-
chinery, makes women into warriors or kills
them. The grandmother and mother were
no longer women. Even when they caressed
the boy their faces were furrowed with invincible
will-power. But Lady Iron-Heels still a woman,
was confused in the alternative of manhood or
death. She was indeed a flower not yet torn
to pieces by the wind, greatly shaken, and there-
fore blooming the faster.
There was a red ribbon streaming over the
gray rag-carpet. Lady Iron-Heels stooped,
gave the ribbon a jerk, and a banjo came snarl-
ing from under the bed.
She sat on the warring colors of the crazy-
quilt, and played a dance-tune, storming the
floor with one heel. She grew pensive. She
" We shall rest in the fair and Iiappy land
Just across on the ever-green shore,
Sing the song of Moses and the Lamb (by and by)
And dwell with Jesus evermore.' 5
106 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
Her neck had a yellow handkerchief round
It. A brown lock swept across her leaping
throat. Her cheeks and chin were bold as her
iron heels. Underneath the precious silken
sunburn, the blood was beating, beating, and
trying to thicken into manhood to fight off
After the music the ladies dipped snuff in
the circle around the dim fire.
"THAT'S ALL THE CHURCH I GET"
I made a great palaver to Iron-Heels about
giving me the banjo ribbon. She consented
easily. Coquetry was not her specialty.
"What might be your name?" she asked.
There was no dodging now. The old woman
spoke up as though to save me pain: "His
name is Nicholas. But he is no kin to Lawyer
Nicholas of Flagpond."
After a long silence the girl said : "We came
from Flagpond, once upon a time."
She had been looking out the door at the
clear bowl of the spring, and the reflection of
the tall bushes, leaping in the wind.
LADY IRON-HEELS 107
I thought to myself : "She herself was John
Kenton's chief rose." I thought: "He had
her in mind when he set these ameliorating
bushes through the wild." Possibly the girl
could not read or write. Yet she was royal.
Democracy has the ways of a jackdaw.
Democracy hides jewels in the ash-heap. De-
mocracy is infinitely whimsical. Every once
in a while a changeling appears, not like any of
the people around, a changeling whose real
ancestors are aristocratic souls forgotten for
centuries. As the girl's eyes narrowed 3 she be-
came Queen Thi, the masterful and beautiful
potentate of inn-memorial Egypt whose face I
have seen in a museum, carved on a Canopic
jar. She was Queen Thi only an instant, then
she became a Tennessee girl again, with the
eyes of a weary doe.
She said: "Them roses give me comfort.
That's all the church I get/*
I asked : "Why are there so many roses be-
tween here and Greenville and none near Flag-
It was her turn not to speak. The old woman
as though to save her pain, answered: "The
flowers of these parts were all brought in by
108 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
John Kenton. He lived in Flagpond, but
could not sell them there."
And the mother of the little boy, the man-
woman, whose husband had killed Kenton,
broke her long silence: "The only flowers we
have to-day are these he brought. I think we
would die without them. . . . How do we get
through the winter?"
Lady Iron-Heels and her sister-in-law took
a swig of whisky from the jug under the table,
and lifted up their hoes from the floor. The
boy whimpered for a drink. They said : "Wait
till you are a man." All three climbed the hill.
Lady Iron-Heels was the last to go over the
ridge. She saw me gather buds from both
those bushes by the spring. She made a
gesture of salute with her hoe.
I never travelled that way again. I passed
by quickly; therefore I had a glimpse of what
she was intended to be. "He that loseth his
life shall find it." I see her many a time when
I am looking on scattered rose-leaves. She
was a woman, God's chief rose for man. She
was scorned and downtrodden, but radiant still.
I am only saying that she wore the face of
Beauty when Beauty rises above circumstance.
LADY IRON-HEELS 109
The buds that I had gathered did not fall to
pieces till I had passed by Daniel Boone's old
trail on through Cumberland Gap, on over big
hill Kentucky into the Blue Grass. On the
way I wrote this, their poor memorial, the
Canticle of the Rose :
It is an article of my creed that the petals of
this flower of which we speak are a medicine,
that they can almost heal a mortal wound.
The rose is so young of face and line, she ap-
pears so casually and humbly, we forget she is
an ancient physician.
Yet so much tradition is wrapped around her
stalk, it is strange she is not a mummy. Her
ashes can be found in the tombs of the Pharaohs,
in everlasting companionship with the ashes
of the lotus and the papyrus plant. Her dust
travels on every desert wind.
No love-song can do without her.
No soldier and no priest can scorn her. There
were the Wars of the Roses. And there was a
Rose in Sharon. Our wandering brother Dante
found a great rose in Paradise.
There are white roses, sweet ghosts under
the pine. There are yellow roses, little suns
in the shadow. But the normal bloom is red,
110 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
flushed with foolish ardors, laughing, shaking
off the gossamer years. She remembers Love,
but not too well, if love is pain. There is no
yesterday that can daunt her and keep her dear
heart-laughter down. In springtime her magic
petals bring God to the weary and give Heaven's
strength to the wavering of heart.
She can turn the slave to a woman, the
woman to something a little more than mor-
tal. Oh, how bravely, with the same life-
giving red, with the last of her virgin strength,
she blooms and blooms on almost every high-
way. We find her on the road to Benares, on
the road to Mecca, on the road to Rome, and
on the road to Nowhere, in Tennessee.
Her red petals can almost heal a mortal
A MENDICANT PILGRIMAGE IN THE
IN LOST JERUSALEM
BEHOLD the Pharisees, proud, rich, and damned,
Boasting themselves in lost Jerusalem,
Gathered a weeping woman to condemn.
Then watching curiously, without a sound
The God of Mercy, writing on the ground.
How looked his sunburned face beneath the sun
Flushed with his Father's mighty angel- wine ?
God make us all divine.
A TEMPLE MADE WITH HANDS
THE DWELHENG-PLACE OF FAITH, HOPE, AND
I HAD walked twelve miles before noon.
Then I had eaten four slices of bread and butter
on merciful doorsteps. At four-thirty, having
completed twenty-one miles, I entered the richest
village in the United States, a village that is
located in New Jersey. I was so weary I was
ready to sleep in the gutter, and did not care
if the wagons ran over me. I should have
walked through to the green fields before I
looked for hospitality. I knew that the well-
meant deeds of the city cannot equal the kind-
ness of the most commonplace farm-hand.
Yet I lingered.
I purchased a feast of beefsteak and onions
at an obscure Jewish restaurant and felt myself
once more a man. But it was now too late to
leave town. The rule of the country is one
116 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
must ask for Ms night's lodging before five
o'clock. After that, things are growing dark,
and people may be afraid of you.
After paying for beefsteak and onions, I had
twenty-five cents. This twenty-five cents was
all that remained after a winter's lecturing on
art and poetry in Manhattan. I am satisfied
that the extra money, over and above all paid
debts, brought me some of the ill-luck of the
night. As I have before observed, money is a
hoodoo on the road. Until a man is penniless
he is not stripped for action.
A sign at the lunch-counter advertised :
"Furnished rooms, fifty cents."
I asked the proprietor to cut the price. He
dodged the issue. "Say, why don't you go up
there to the mission ? They will sell you a good
"For a quarter?"
"Something like that."
"Show me the place."
As of old the Jew pointed out the way of
salvation. The Gentile followed it and reached
the dwelling-place of Faith, Hope, and Charity.
"What do you want?" The questioner,
evidently in charge of the place, was accoutred
A TEMPLE MADE WITH HANDS 117
in stage laboring-man style. Maybe Ms para-
phernalia was intended to put Mm on a level
with wayfarers. He wore a slouch hat, a soft
shirt, and no necktie. His clothes had the store
freshness still. They looked rather presumptu-
ous in that neat, well-stocked reading room.
"I want a cheap bed."
"We do not seU beds."
"I was told you did."
"We give them away."
"But you have to work."
" Do you want to leave early in the morning ? "
(The place was evidently a half-way house for
" Yes. I want to leave early in the morning. "
"Then you will have to split kindling two
"Show me the kindling."
In the basement I throned myself on one
block while I chopped kindling on another.
118 A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGARS
Before me, piled to the first story, was a cellar! ul
of wood, the record of my predecessors in toil.
I gathered that the corporal's guard of the un-
employed who stayed at the mission that night,
and had been there two or three days, had
finished their day's assignment of splitting.
They completely surrounded me, questioned
me with the greatest curiosity, and put me
down as a terrific liar, for I answered every
question with simple truth.
As soon as the melodramatic workingman-boss
went up stairs, one of them said, "Don't work
so fast. It's only a matter of form this late at
night. They want to see if you are willing,
I chopped a little faster for this advice. Not
that I was out of humor with the advisers,
though I should have been, for they were box-
One of them, having an evil and a witty eye,
said, "If I was goin' west like you, I'd start
about ten o'clock to-night and be near Buffalo
Another, a mild nobody, professed himself a
miller. He told what a wonderful trick it was
to say, "Leddy, I'm too tired to work till I eat,"
and after eating, to walk away.
A TEMPLE MADE WITH HANDS 119
The next, a carriage painter of battered
gentility, told endless stories of the sprees that
had destroyed him. Another, a white frog with
a bald head and gray mustache, quite won my
heart. He said, "Wait till you get a nice warm
bath after service. Then you'll sleep good."
To my weary and addled brain the mission
was like one of those beautiful resting-places
in Pilgrim's Progress. It became my religion,
just to split kindling. I failed to apprehend
what infinitesimal nobodies these fellows around
me were. I should have disliked them more.
The modern tramp is not a tramp, he is a
speed-maniac. Being unable to afford lux-
uries, he must still be near something mechanical
and hasty, so he uses a dirty box-car to whirl
from one railroad-yard to another. He has no
destination but the cinder-pile by the water-
tank. The landscape hurrying by in one indis-
tinguishable mass and the roaring of the car-
wheels in his ears are the ends of life to him.
He is no back-to-nature crank. He is a most
highly specialized modern man. All to keep
going, he risks disease from these religious
missions, from foul box-cars, and foul comrades.
He risks accident every hour. He Is always
180 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
liable to the cruelty of conductor or brakeman
and to murder by companions.
He runs fewer risks in the country, yet Ms aver-
sion to the country is profound. He knows all
that I know about country hospitality, that it
2an be purchased by the merest grain of cour-
tesy. Yet most of the farm-people that enter-
tained me had not seen a tramp for months.
To account for some of the happenings of this
tale I will only add that a speed-maniac at either
end of the social scale is not necessarily a
bustler, personally. But in one way or another
tie is sure to be shallow and artificial, the gro-
tesque, nervous victim of machinery. And a
"Mission," an institution built by speed-
maniacs who use automobiles for speed-maniacs
who use box-cars, is bound to be absurd beyond
words to tell it.
THE SERMON ON THE MOUNT
I loved all men that night, even the fellow in
melodramatic laboring-man costume, who ap-
peared after two hours to drive us animals up
stairs into one corner of the chapel, where a
A TEMPLE MADE WITH HANDS 121
dozen of our kind had already assembled from
On the far side of that chapel sat the money-
fed. The aisle was a great gulf between them
and us. I smiled across the gulf indulgently,
imagining by what exhortations to "Come and
help us in our problem " those uncomfortable
persons had been assembled. An unmitigated
clergyman rose to read a text.
I presume this clergyman imagined Christ
wore a white tie and was on a salary promptly
paid by some of our oldest families. But I
share with the followers of St. Francis the vision
of Christ as a man of the open road* improvident
as the sparrow. I share with the followers of
Tolstoi the opinion that when Christ pro-
claimed those uncomfortable social doctrines,
he meant what he said.
The clergyman read : "Blessed are the poor
in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven."
"Blessed are they that mourn, for they shall
"Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit
He read much more than I will quote. Here
is the final passage :
128 A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGARS
"Ye have heard tow It hath been said : ' An
eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth. 5 But I
say unto you that you resist not evil. But
whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek,
turn to him the other also. And if any man will
sue thee at the law, and take away thy coat,
let Mm have thy cloak also. And whosoever
shall compel thee to go a mile, go with him twain.
Give to him that asketh thee, and to Mm that
would borrow of thee, turn not thou away."
This Pharisee smugly assumed that he was
authorized by the Deity to explain away this
scripture. And he did it, as the reader has heard
it done many a time.
The Pharisee was followed by a fat Scribe who
tried to smile away what the other fellow had
tried to argue away. The fat one then called
on the assembly to bow, and exhorted the re-
pentant to hold up their hands to be prayed for.
I held up my hand. Was I not eating the
bread of the mission? And then I felt like a
"Thank God," said the fat one.
After a hymn, testimonies were called for. I
felt the spirit move me, but some one had the
floor. Across the gulf she stood, an exceedingly
A TEMPLE MADE WITH HANDS
well-dressed and blindly devout sister. She
glanced with a terrified shrinMng at the animals
she hoped to benefit. She said :
"There has been one great difficulty in my
Christian life. It came with seeking for the
Spirit. Sometimes we think it has come with
power, when we are simply stirred by our own
selfish desires. Our works will show whether
we are moved by the Spirit. 59
I wanted to preach them a sermon on St.
Francis. But how could I? There was still
a quarter in my own pocket* Meanwhile there
rose a saint with a pompadour and blocky jaws.
He was distinctly inferior in social position to a
great part of the saints. It was probable he
had given that testimony many times. But
he did not want the meeting to drag. He spake
in a loud voice : "I was saved from a drunk"
ard's life, in this mission, eighteen years ago,
and ever since, not by my own power, but by
the grace of God, I have been leading a God-
fearing and money-making life in this town, 5 '
That was his exact phrase, "a money-making
life." His intention was good, but he should
have been more tactful. The Pharisee looked
184 A HANDY GUIDE FOIL BEGGAES
A SCREAMING FARCE
I advise all self-respecting citizens to skip
this section. It is notMng but over-strained,
The throng melted. Scribe and Pharisee,
Dives, Mrs. Dives, and their satellites went home
to their comfortable beds. Many of the roughs
on our side of the house found somewhere else
to stay. The fellow dressed like a workingman
in a melodrama sought the consolations of his
own home. Had the last authority departed ?
Were we to have anarchy? The Frog, in his
gentlest manner, sidled up to make friends
" Now you can have your nice warm bath, you
two/ 5 I looked around. There were two of
us then. Beside me, fresh from a box-car was
a battered scalawag. The Frog must have let
him in at the last moment.
We three climbed to the bath-room.
"Wait a minute/' said the Amphibian. He
disappeared. I opened my eyes, for this crea-
ture spake with a voice of authority. The box-
car scalawag grinned sheepishly.
A TEMPLE MADE WITH HANDS 126
There was a scuffling overhead, a scratch and
a rumble. We two looked up just In time to
dodge the astonishing vision of a clothes-horse
descending through a trap-door by a rope. At
the upper end of the rope was the absurd bald
head of our newly achieved superintendent.
"Hello, Santy Glaus," said the box-car
tramp. "Whose Christinas present is this?'*
The Frog shouted : "Put your shoes and hats
in the corner. If you have any tobacco, put
it in your shoes. Hang everything else on the
I obeyed, except that I had no tobacco. The
rascal by my side had a plenty, and sawdusted
the bath-room floor with some of it, and the
remainder went into his foot-gear. Then we
two, companions in nakedness, watched the
Frog haul up our clothes out of sight. He
closed the trap-door with many grunts.
Then this Amphibian, this boss, descended
and entered the bath-room. He was a dry-
land Amphibian. He had never taken a bath
himself, but was there to superintend. He
seemed to feel himself the accredited representa-
tive of all the good people behind the mission,
and no doubt he was.
126 A HAXDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
"Can it be possible/' I asked myself, "that
they have chosen this creature to apply their
The Frog said to my companion: "Git in
Then he turned on the water, regulated the
temperature, and watched as though he ex-
pected one of us to steal the faucets from the
wash-bowl. He threw a gruesome rag at the
tramps and allowed him to scrub himself. The
creature bathing seemed well-disposed toward
the idea, and had put soap on about one-third
of his person when the Frog shouted : "I've got
to get up at four-thirty/'
The scalawag took the hint and rose like
Venus from the foam. He splashed off part of
it, and rubbed off the rest with a towel that was
a fallen sister of the wash-rag.
The Frog was evidently trying to enforce, in a
literal way, regulations he did not understand.
He wiped out the bath-tub most carefully with
the unclean wash-rag. Then he provided the
scalawag with a shirt for night-wear. The
creature put it OIL and said :
"Ain't I a peach?"
A TEMPLE MADE WITH HANDS 187
The nightie was an old, heavily-starched
dress-shirt, once white. Maybe it had once
been worn by the Scribe or the Pharisee. But
it had not been washed since. The rascal cut
quite a figure as he took long steps down the
corridor to bed, piloted by the hurrying Am-
phibian. He was a long-legged rascal, and the
slivered remainders of that ancient shirt flapped
about him gloriously.
I was hustled into the tub after the rascal.
I was supervised after the same manner. "Now
wash/* boomed the Amphibian. He threw at
me the sloppy rag of my predecessor.
I threw it promptly on the floor.
"I don't use a wash-rag/' I said.
"Hurry/* croaked the Frog. And "he let the
water out of the tub. He handed me the towel
the scalawag had used. I had not, as a matter
of fact, had a bath, and I was quite footsore.
"I do not want that towel," I said.
"You're awful fancy, aren't you?" sneered
Wherever I was damp, I rubbed myself dry
with ray bare hands, being skilled in the matter,
meanwhile reflecting that there is nothing worse
than a Pharisee except a creature like this. I
128 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGAES
wondered if it was too late to rouse a mob among
the better element of the town, neither saints
nor sinners, but just plain malefactors of great
wealth, and have this person lynched. There
were probably multi-Tn illionnaires in this town
giving ten-dollar bills to this mission, who were
imagining they were giving a free bath to some-
I wanted to appeal to some man with mani-
cured hands who had grown decently rich
robbing the widow and the orphan and who now
had the leisure to surround himself with the
appurtenances of civility and the manners of a
"I am through with the poor but honest sub-
merged tenth. Rich worldlings for mine," I
"Put these on," squeaked the Frog. His
manner said, "See how good we are to you."
He held out the treasure of the establishment,
a night-garment retained for fastidious new-
arrivals, newly-bathed. Of course, no one else
was supposed to bathe.
Was the garment he held out a slivered shirt ?
Nay, nay. It was a sort of pajama combina-
tion. Hundreds of men had found shelter,
A TEMPLE MADE WITH HANDS 129
taken a luxurious bath, and put them on. They
were companions in crime of the towel and the
wash-rag. Let us suppose that three hundred
and sixty-five men wore them a year. In ten
years there would have been about three thou-
sand six hundred and fifty bathed men in them.
That did not account for their appearance.
"What makes them so dirty?" I asked.
"Can't I wear my underclothes to bed in-
stead of these ? "
"What do you mean by sulphur?"
"Your clothes are up stairs being fumigated."
"Can*t I get my socks to-night? I always
wash them before I go to bed."
"No. It's against the law of the state. And
you would dirty up these bowls. I have just
scrubbed them out/*
"I will wash them out afterward."
"I haven't time to wait. I must get up at
"But why fumigate my clean underwear, and
give me dirty pajamas ? "
ISO A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGARS
The Frog was getting flabbergasted. "I
tell you It's the law of New Jersey. You are
getting awful fancy. If I had had my way,
you would never have been let in here."
h Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit
the earth/' I said to myself, and put on the
This insanitary director showed me my bed.
It was in a long low room with all the windows
closed, where half a score were asleep. The
sheets had never, never, never been washed.
Why was it that in a mission so shiny in its
reading room, and so devout in its chapel, so
melodramatic with its clean workman-boss, in
the daytime, these things were so ?
The lights went out. I kicked off the pajamas
and slept. I awoke at midnight and reflected
on all these matters. I quoted another scrip-
ture to myself : "I was naked, and ye clothed
THE HIGHWAY OF OUB GOD
At six o'clock I was called for breakfast.
My sulphur-smelling clothes were on my bed.
A TEMPLE MADE WITH HANDS 131
I put them on with a light heart, for after all I
had slept well, and my feet were not stiff. The
quarter was still in my trousers' pocket. I
presume that hoodoo quarter had something to
do with the bad breakfast.
The Amphibian was now cook. He gave each
man a soup-plate heaped with oat-meal. If it
had been oats, it would have been food for so
many horses. Had the Frog been up since four
thirty preparing this ?
The price of part of that horse-feed might
have gone into something to eat. There was a
salty blue sauce on it that was called milk.
And there was dry bread to be had, without
butter, and as much bad coffee as a man could
A person called the bookkeeper arrived with the
janitor. I made my formal farewells to those
representatives of the law, before whom the
Amphibian melted with humility. The scala-
wag who had bathed with me tipped me a wink,
and tried to escape in my company. But I
bade "him good-by so firmly that the authorities
noticed, and the brash creature remained glued
to his chair. He probably had to do his full
share of kindling before he escaped.
132 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
I went forth from that place into the highway
of our God, who dwelleth not in temples made
with hands, neither is worshipped with men's
hands, as though He needed anything, seeing He
giveth to all men life and breath and all things.
I said in my heart : "I shall walk on and on
and find a better, a far holier shrine than this
at the ends of the infinite earth. 35
THE TOWN OF AMERICAN VISIONS
Is it for naught that where the tired crowds see
Only a place for trade, a teeming square,
Doors of Mgt portent open unto me
Carved with g. jat eagles, and with hawthorns
Doors I proclaim, for there are rooms forgot
Ripened through aeons by the good and wise :
Walls set with Art's own pearl and amethyst
Angel- wrought hangings there, and heaven-hued
Dazzling the eye of faith, the hope-filled heart :
Rooms rich in records of old deeds sublime :
Books that hold garnered harvests of far lands,
Pictures that tableau Man's triumphant climb :
Statues so white, so counterfeiting life,
Bronze so ennobled* so with glory fraught
That the tired eyes must weep with joy to see
And the tired mind in Beauty's net be caught.
A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGAES
Come enter there, and meet To-morrow's Man,
Communing with Mm softly day by day.
Ah, the deep vistas he reveals, the dream
Of angel-bands in infinite array
Bright angel-bands, that dance in paths of earth
"When our despairs are gone, long overpast
When men and maidens give fair hearts to Christ
And white streets flame in righteous peace at
ON BEING ENTERTAINED ONE EVEN-
ING BY COLLEGE BOYS
I WALKED across the bridge from New Jersey
into Easton, Pennsylvania, one afternoon. I
discovered there was a college atop of the hill.
In exchange for a lecture on twenty-six great
men l based on a poem on the same theme,
that I carried with me, the boys entertained me
that night. They did not pay much attention
to the lecture. Immediately before and after
was a yell carnival. There was to be a game
next day. They were cheering the team and
the coach with elaborate reiteration. All was
But for all this the boys spoke to me gently,
gave me the privileges of the table, the bath-
room,, the dormitory. The president of the
Y. M. C. A. lent me a clean suit of pajamas.
He and two other young fellows delighted my
1 Portions of this poem are scattered through, this book for
interludes. Others are already printed in General Booth and
136 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
vain soul, by keeping me up late reciting all
the poems I knew.
I record these things for the sake of recording
one thing more, the extraordinary impression of
buoyancy that came from that school. It was
inspiring to a degree, a draught of the gods.
Coming into that place not far from the centre
of hard-faced Easton-town I realized for the
first time what sheltered, nurtured boy-America
was like, and what wonders may lie beneath the
roofs of our cities.
THAT WHICH MEN HAH, AS KING
WOULD I might rouse the Caesar in you all,
(That which men hail as king., and bow them
Till you are crowned, or you refuse the crown.
Would I might wake the valor and the pride,
The eagle soul with which he soared and died,
Entering grandly then the fearful grave.
God help us build the world, like master-men,
God help us to be brave.
LEAVING New Jersey I kept from all contact
with money, and was consequently turning
over in memory many delicious adventures
among the Pennsylvania-German farmers.
After crossing that lovely, lonely plateau called
Pocono Mountain, I descended abruptly to
Wilkesbarre by a length of steep automobile
road called Giant Despair.
It was a Sunday noon in May. Wilkesbarre
was a mixture of Sabbath calm and the smoke
of torment that ascendeth forever. One passed
pious faces too clean, sooty faces too restless.
I hurried through, hoping for more German
farmers beyond. But Bang Coal had conspired
against the traveller, and would not let him go.
The further west I walked, the thicker the
squalor and slag heaps, and the presence of
St. Francis seemed withdrawn from me, though
I had been faithful in ray fashion.
King Coal is a boaster. He says he furnishes
NEAR SmCKSBONNY 139
food for all the engines of the earth. He says
he is the maker of steam. He says steam is the
twentieth century. He holds that an infinite
number of black holes in the ground is a
He may say what he likes, but he has not
excused himself to me. He blasts the landscape.
Never do human beings drink so hard to forget
their sorrow as in the courtyards of this mon-
arch. To dig in a mine makes men reckless, to
own one makes them tormentors.
I had a double reason for hurrying on. My
rules as a mendicant afoot were against cities
and railroads. I flattered myself I was called
and sent to the agricultural laborer.
When the land grew less black and less in-
habited, I mistakenly rejoiced, assuming I
should soon strike the valleys where grain is
sown and garnered. Yet the King was follow-
ing me still, like a great mole underground.
There was no coal on the surface. The land was
rusty-red and ashen-gray, as though blasted
by the torch of a Cyclops and only yesterday
cooled by the rain. The best grain that could
have been scattered among such rocks with the
hope of a crop was a seed of dragons' teeth.
140 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
How long the desolation continued ! Toward
the end of the day in the midst of the nothing-
ness, I came upon a saloon full of human crea-
tures roaring drunk. Otherwise there was not
so much as a shed in sight.
Four vilely dirty little girls came down the
steps carrying beer. One of them, too intoxi-
cated for her errand, entrusted her can to her
companions. They preceded me toward the
smoke-veiled sun by a highway growing black
again with the foot-prints of the Eang.
Now there was a deafening explosion. I sat
down on a rock examining myself to see if I was
still alive. The children pattered on. My
start seemed to amuse them immensely. I
followed toward the new civil war, or whatever
Just over the crest and around the corner I
encountered the King's never-varying insignia,
the double-row of " company houses."
Every dwelling was as eternally and uniformly
damned as its neighbor, making the eyes ache,
standing foursquare in the presence of the in-
sulted daylight. Every porch and railing was
jig-sawed in the same ruthless way. Every
front yard was grassless. Everything was made
NEAR SHICKSHIXNY 141
of wood, yet seemed made of Iron, so black it
was, so long had It stood in the wasting weather,
so steadily had it resisted the dynamite now
shaking the earth.
There they stood, thirty houses to the left,
thirty to the right, with what you might call a
street between, whose ruts were seemingly cut
by the treasure-chariots of the brimstone
princes of the nether world.
Two-thirds of the way through, several
young miners were exploding giant powder.
As I approached I saw another was loading his
pistol with ball-cartridges and shooting over
the hills at the sun. He did not put it out.
The group of children with the beer served
these knights of dynamite, holding up the cans
for them to drink. The little cup-bearers were
then given pennies. They scurried home.
By their eyes and queer speech I guessed that
these children were Poles, or of some other race
from Eastern Europe. I guessed the same
about the men celebrating. Every porch on
both sides of that street held some heavy headed
creatures from presumably the same foreign
parts. They were, no doubt, good citizens
after their peculiar fashion, but with counte-
142 A HANDY GLTDE FOR BEGGARS
nances that I could not read. Though the next
explosion seemed to jolt the earth out of Its
orbit, they merely blinked.
I said to myself , "This is not the fourth of
July. Therefore it must be the anniversary
of the day when * Freedom shrieked' and c Ko-
sciuszko fell. ' "
I reached the end of the street ; nothing be-
yond but a hollow of hills and a dubious river,
enclosing a new Tophet, that I learned after-
wards was Shickshinny. It was late. I wanted
to get beyond to the green fields.
I zigzagged across that end of the street to
folk on the front porches that I thought were
Americans. Each time I vainly attempted con-
versation with some dumb John SobiesM in
Sunday clothes. I wondered what were the
Polish words for bread, shelter, and dead broke.
THE SON OF KING COAL
Some spick and span people came out on the
porch of the last house. Possibly they could
understand English. I went closer. They were
out and out Americans.
NEAR SHICKSHIKNY US
So I looked them in the eye and said: "I
would like to have you entertain me to-night.
I am a sort of begging preacher. I do not take
money, only food and lodging. "
"A beggin' preacher?"
" My sermon is in poetry. I can read it to you
after supper, if that will suit."
"What sort of poetry?" asked the man.
"I can only say it is my own."
"Why I just LOVE poetry/' said the woman.
" Come up," said the man 3 and hustled out a
"I'll go right in and get supper/ 9 said the wife.
She was a breezy creature with a loud musical
voice. She doubtless developed it by trying
to talk against giant powder.
I told the man my story, in brief.
After quite a smoke, he said, "So you've
walked from Wilkesbarre this afternoon. Why,
man, that's seventeen miles."
I do not believe it was over fourteen.
He continued, "I'm awful glad to see a white
man. This place is full of Bohunks, and Slavs,
and Rooshians, and Poles and Lickerishes
(Lithuanians?). They're not bad to have
144 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
around, but they ain't Caucasians. They all
The fellow's manner breathed not only race-
fraternity, but industrial fraternity. It had
no suggestion of sheltered agricultural caution.
It was sophisticated and anti-capitalistic. It
said, "You and I are against the system.
That's enough for brotherhood."
Now that he stood and refilled Ms pipe from a
tobacco box nailed just inside the door, I saw
him as in a picture-frame. He had powerful
but slanting shoulders. He was so tall he must
needs stoop to avoid the lintel. With his bent
neck, he looked as though he could hold up a
mine caving in. His general outlines seemed
to be hewn from fence-rails, then hung with
grotesque muscles of loose leather. His eye-
brows were grown together. From looking
down long passageways his eyes were marvel-
lously owl-like. He was cadaverous. He had
a beak nose. He had a retreating chin but,
breaking the rules of phrenology, he managed
to convey the impression of a driving personal-
ity. He looked like an enormous pickaxe.
He calmly commented: "Them Polacks
waste powder awful. Not only on Sunday, for
NEAR SmOESEONNY 145
fun, but down in the mine they use twice too
much. And they can't blast the hardest coal,
either. . . . And they're always gettin' care-
less and blowin' themselves to hell and every-
body else. It's awful, it's awful/ 5 he said,
but in a most philosophic tone.
He lowered his voice and pointed with his
pipe stem : "Them people that live in the next
house are supposed to be Cawcasians, but they
haven't a marriage license. They let their
little girl go for beer this afternoon, for them
fellows explodin' powder over there. 'Taint
no way to raise a child. That child's mother
was a well-behaved Methodist till she married
a Polack, and had four children, and he died,
and they died, and some say she poisoned them
all. Now she's got this child by this no-ac-
count white man. They live without a license,
like birds. Yet they eat off weddin V
"Eat off weddings?"
"Yes/' he said. " These Bohunks and Licker-
ishes all have one kind of a wedding. It lasts
three days and everybody comes. The best
man is king. He bosses the plates.**
"Bosses the plates?"
"Yes. They buy a lot of cheap plates*
146 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
Every man that comes must break a plate with
a dollar. The plate is put in the middle of
the floor. He stands over it and bangs the
dollar down. If he breaks the plate he gets
to kiss and hug the bride. If he doesn't break
it, the young couple get that dollar. He must
keep on givin' them dollars in this way till he
breaks the plate. Eats and plates and beer
cost about fifty dollars. The young folks clear
about two hundred dollars to start life on/*
"And/' he continued, "the folks next door
make a practice of eatin' round at weddings
without puttin' down their dollars."
I began to feel guilty.
"It's a good deal like my begging supper and
breakfast of you/ 5 He hadn't meant it that
way. "No/ 5 he said, "you're takin 9 the only
way to see the country. Why, man, I used to
travel like you, before I was married, except
I didn't take no book nor poetry nor nothing
and wasn't af eered of box-cars the way you are.
... I been in every state in the Union but
Maine. I don't know how I kept out of there.
. . . I've been nine years in this house. I
don't know but what I see as much as when I
was on the go. ...
NEAR SHICKSHINNY. 147
"That fellow Gallic over there that was
shootin 5 that pistol at the sky killed a man
named Bothweinis last year and got off free.
It was Gallic's wedding and Bothweinis brought
fifty dollars and said he was goin' to break all
the plates in the house. He used up twelve
dollars. He broke seven plates and kissed the
bride seven times. Then the bride got drunk.
She was only fifteen years old. She hunted
up Bothweinis and kissed him and cried, and
Gallic chased him down towards Shiekshinny
and tripped Mm up, and shot Mm in the
mouth and in the eye. . . . The bride didn't
know no better. . . . He was an awful sight
when they brought him in. The bride was
only a kid. These Bohunk women never learn
no sense anyway. They're not smart like
Caucasian women, and they fade in the face
He reflected: <c My wife's a wonderful
woman. I have been with her nine years, and
she learns me something every day, and she
still looks good in her Sunday clothes."
He became lighter in tone again. "What
these Bohunks need is a priest and a church to
make them behave. They mind a priest some,
148 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
if lie Is a good priest. They're all Catholics, or
no church. . . .**
<e Seems though sometimes a man's GOT to
shoot. Some of them devils over there used to
throw rocks at my door, but one Sunday 1
filled 'em full of buckshot and they quit. The
justice upheld me. I didn't have to pay no
fine. They've been pretty good neighbors since,
pretty good neighbors."
There was a sound as though the flagstones of
eternity had been ripped up. He saw I didn't
like it and said consolingly, "They'll stop and
go to supper pretty soon. They eat too much
to do anything but set, afterwards. They don't
have nothin' to eat in the old country but raw
turnips. Here they stuff themselves like toads.
I don't see how they save money the way they
do. The mine owners squeeze the very life out
of *em and they wallow in beer. I've always
made big money, but somehow never kept it.
Me and my wife are spenders. But I ain't
afraid, for I am the only man on the street that
can dig the hardest coal. I could dig my way
out of hell with my pick, and by G once
I did it, too."
The wife came to the door newly decked in an
NEAR SHICKSHEsNY 149
elaborate lace waist, torn, alas, at the shoulder.
Husband was right. She looked good. She
announced radiantly ; "Come to supper.' 5
Then she rushed down between the houses
and shouted: "Jimmy and Frank, come here!
"What you doin 5 ? Get down off that roof.
What you doin', assoeiatin' with them Polack
children? What you doin* with them
switches?" Then she swore heartily, as unto
the Lord, and continued, "They're helpin' them
Polack kids switch that poor little drunk
American child. Come down off that coal
They slunk into sight. She snatched their
switches from them.
"Who started it?"
Jimmy admitted he started it. He looked
capable of starting most anything, good or bad.
He had eyes like black diamonds, a stocky frame,
and the tiny beginnings of his mother's voice.
"I don't know whether to lick you or not/'
she said judicially. Finally: "Go up to bed
She addressed us in perfect good humor, as a
musical volcano might : " Come and eat."
150 A HANDY GLTDE FOR BEGGARS
THE DAUGHTER OP THE KING
Never did I see beefsteak so thick. There
was a garnish of fried onions. There was a
separate sea of gravy. There was a hill of
butter, a hill of thickly sliced bread. There was
a delectable mountain of potatoes. That was
all. These people were living the simple life,
living it in chunks.
At table, as everywhere, the husband solemnly
deferred to the wife. She was to him a druid
priestess. And so she was radiant, as woman
enthroned is apt to be. Of course, no young
lady from finishing school would have liked the
way we tunnelled and blasted our way through
the provender. We were gloriously hungry and
our manners were a hearty confession of the
My passion for the joys of the table partially
sated, I began to realize the room. There were
hardly any of the comforts of home. There
was a big onyx time-piece, chipped, and not
running. Beside it was a dollar alarm-clock
in good trim.
There were in the next room, among other
NEAR SHICKSHINNY 151
things, two frail gilt parlor chairs, almost black.
The curtains were streaked with soot and poorly
ironed. Site said she had washed them yester-
day. But, she continued, "I just keep cheer-
ful, I don't keep house. Doesn't seem like I
can, this street is so awful dirty and noisy and
"Yet you like it," said the husband.
"Yes," she said, "that's because I'm half
Irish. The Irish were born for excitement."
" What's your ancestry ? " I asked the husband.
"My father was a mountain white. Moved
here from North Carolina, and dug coal and
married a Pennsylvania Dutch lady."
"It's your turn," she said to me. "You are
"That's a kind of an excuse I make."
"You can't be any worse than the preacher
we had here," continued the wife. "He lived
down toward Shickshinny. He preached in an
old chapel. He wouldn't start a Sunday school.
We needed one bad enough. He just married
folks. He hardly ever buried them. They say
he was afraid. And," she continued, with a
growing tone of condemnation, " it's a preacher's
BUSINESS to face death.
158 A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGARS
"Just about the time two of our children
died of diphtheria, was when he came to these
parts. He was a Presbyterian, and I was raised
a Presbyterian, and he wouldn't preach the
funeral of my two babies. He promised to
come, and we waited two hours. So I just
read the Bible at the grave. 3 *
This she recounted with a bitter sense of
"And the same day he locked up his mother,
"Locked up his mother?' 5
"Yes. Some said he wanted to visit a woman
he didn't want her to know about. They said
he was afraid she would follow him and spy.
He locked up the old Iady s and she about yelled
the roof off, and the neighbors let her out.
"And then/' continued my hostess, "when
he was dying, he sent for a Wilkebsarre
"Sent for a priest?" I exclaimed, com-
"Yes," she whispered. "He must have been
a Catholic all the time. And the priest wouldn't
come either. That's what that old preacher got
for being so mean."
NEAE SHICKSHINNY US
She continued : " That preacher wasn't much
meaner than the man is in the company store."
She was bristling again.
"He won't deliver goods up here unless you
run a big bill. If I want anything much while
big Frank here is at work, I have to take
Jimmy's little play express-wagon and haul
And now she was telling me of her terrible
fright three days ago, down at the company
store, when there was a rumor of an accident
in one of the far tunnels of the mine.
"All the foreign women came running down
the hUl, half-crazy. I am used to false alarms,
but I could hardly get up to this house with my
goods. I was expecting to see big Frank
brought in, just like he was before little Frank
was born, eight years ago."
Little Frank lifted his face from its business
of eating to listen.
"The first thing that boy ever saw was his
father on the floor there, covered with blood."
"You don't remember it, Frank?" asked his
The wife continued: "There was only one
154 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
doctor came. We had a time between us. The
other doctor was tendin' the men husband had
dug out. The coal fell on them and mashed
them flat. It couldn't quite mash husband.
He's too tough," she said, lovingly. "He
grabbed his pick and he tunnelled his way
through, with the blood squirting out of him."
Husband grinned like a petted child. He
said: "It wasn't quite as bad as that, but I
was bloody, all right."
She continued with a gesture of impatience :
"This is cheerful Sunday night talk. Let's
try something else. What kind of a poem are
you goin' to read ? "
<fi lt tells boys how to be great men, but It's
for fellows of from fifteen to twenty. You'll
have to save it for your sons till they grow a
She was at the foot of the stairway like a
"Son, dress and come down to supper."
Son was down almost as soon as she was in
her chair, pulling on a stocking as he came.
And he was hungry. He ate while we talked
on and on.
NEAR SHICKSHINNY 155
THE GRANDSONS OF THE KING
After the supper the dishes waited. The
wife said : "Now we will have the poetry/*
I said in my heart, "Maybe this is the one
house in a hundred where the seed of these
verses will be sown upon good ground."
We went into the parlor, distinguished as
such by the battered organ. The mother had
Frank. and Jimmy sit in semicircle with her and
big Frank, while I plunged into my rhymed
appeal. After the dynamite of the day I did
not hesitate to let loose the thunders. I
did not hesitate to pause and expound : the
poem being, as I have before described, many
stanzas on heroes of history, with the refrain,
ever and anon : God help us to be brave. No,
kind and flattering reader, it was NOT above
their heads. Earnestness is earnestness every-
where. The whole circle grasped that I really
expected something unusual of those boys with
the black-diamond eyes, no matter what kind
of perversity was in them at present.
I said, in so many words, as a beginning, that
nitro-glycerine was not the only force in the
156 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
world, that there is also that dynamite called
the power of the soul, and that detonation
But I did not dwell long upon my special
saints, Francis of Assisi and Buddha, nor those
other favorites who some folk think contradict
them: Phidias and Michael Angelo. I dwelt
on the strong: Alexander, Caesar, Moham-
med, Cromwell, Napoleon, and especially
upon the lawgivers, Confucius, Moses, Jus-
tinian; and dreamed that this ungoverned
strength before me, that had sprung from the
loins of King Coal, might some day climb high,
that these little wriggling, dirty-fisted grand-
sons of that monarch might yet make the world
some princely reparation for his crimes.
After the reading the mother and father said
solemnly, "it is a good book."
Then the wife showed the other two pieces
of printed matter in the household, a volume
of sermons, and a copy of The House of a Thou-
sand Candles. You have read that work about
the candles. The sermons were by the Reverend
Wood M. Smithers. You do not know the
Reverend Mister Smithers? He has collected
in one fair volume all the sermons that ever put
NEAR SHICKSHINNY 157
you to sleep, an antliology of all those discourses
that are just alike.
She said she had read them over and over
again to the family. I believed it. There
was butter on the page. I said in my heart :
"She is not to be baffled by any phraseology.
If she can get a kernel out of Wood M.
Smithers, she will also derive strength from my
She promised she would have each of the boys
pick out one of the twenty-sis great men for a
model, as soon as they were schooled enough to
choose. She put the poem in the kitchen table
drawer, where she kept some photographs of
close relatives, and I had the final evidence that
I had become an integral part of the family
ON TO SHICKSHINISTY
They sent me up to bed. I put out thfe
lamp at once, lest I should see too much. I
went to sleep quickly. I was as quickly
awakened. Being a man of strategies and
divertisements, I reached through the black-
158 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
ness to the lamp that was covered with leaked
oil. I rubbed this on my hands, and thence,
thinly over my whole body. Coal oil too
thick makes blisters ; thin enough, brings peace.
I remember breakfast as a thing apart.
Although the table held only what we had
for supper, warmed over, although the morn-
ing light was grey, and the room the worse for
the grey light, the thing I cannot help remem-
bering was the stillness and tenderness of that
time. Father and mother spoke in subdued
human voices. They had not yet had occasion
to shout against the alarums and excursions
of the day. And the sensitive faces of the
boys, and the half-demon, half-angel light of
their eyes stirred me with marvelling and rever-
ence for the curious, protean ways of God.
And now I was walking down the steeps of
Avernus into Shickshinny, toward the smoke
of torment that ascends forever. Underfoot
was spread the same dark leprosy that yester-
day had stunted flower and fruit and grass-
I hated King Coal still, but not so much as
WHAT THE SEXTON SAID
YOTJ:B dust will be upon the wind
"Within some certain years,
Though you be sealed in lead to-day
Amid the country's tears.
When this idyllic churchyard
Becomes the Heart of town,
The place to build garage or inn,
They'll throw your tombstone down.
Your name so dim, so long outworn,
Your bones so near to earth,
Your sturdy kindred dead and gone,
How should men know your worth ?
So read upon the runic moon
Man's epitaph, deep-writ.
It says the world is one great grave.
For names it cares no wMt.
It tells the folk to live in peace,
Aj&d still, in peace, to die.
At least, so speaks the moon to me,
The tombstone of the sky.
DEATH, THE DEVIL, AND HUMAN
THE SHRED OF AN ALLEGOEY
CURIOUS are the agencies that throw the
true believer into the occult state. Convales-
cence may do it. Acts of piety may do it.
Self-mortification may do it.
After reading my evening sermon in rhyme
in the house of the stranger, I had slept on the
lounge in the parlor. The lounge had lost
some of its excelsior, and the springs wound
their way upwards like steel serpents. So
strenuous had been the day I could have
slumbered peacefully on a Hindu bed of spikes.
I awoke refreshed, despite several honorable
scars. What is more important I left that
house with faculties of discernment.
I did not realize at first that I was particu-
DEATH, DEVIL, HUMAN KINDNESS 161
larly spiritualized. I was merely walking west,
hoping to take in Oil City on my route. Yet I
saw straight through the bark of a big maple,
and beheld the loveliest . . . but I have not
time to tell.
Then I heard a fluttering in a patch of tall
weeds and discovered what the people in fairy-
land call . . . but no matter. We must hurry
At noon your servant was on the front step
of a store near a cross-roads called Cranberry,
Pennsylvania. The store was on the south
side of the way by which I had come. I sat
looking along wagon tracks leading north,
little suspecting I should take that route soon.
On one side overhead was the sign : "Fred
James, Undertaker/' On the other: "Fred
"And so," I thought, "I am going to meet,
face to face, one of the eternal powers. He may
call himself Fred James all he pleases. His
real name is Death."
I met the lady Life, once upon a time, long
ago. She * had innocent blue eyes. Alone in
the field I felt free to kiss the palm of her
little hand, under the shadow of the corn.
162 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
It has nothing to do with the tale, but let
us here reflect how the corn-stalk is a proud
thing, how it flourishes Its dangerous blades,
guarding the young ear. It will cut you on
the forehead if the wind is high. Above the
blades is the sacred tassel like a flame.
Once, under that tassel, under those danger-
ous blades, I met Life, and for good reason,
bade her good-by. After her solemn words
of parting, she called me back, and mischiev-
ously fed me, from the pocket of her gingham
apron, crab apples and cranberries. Ever since
that time those fruits have been bitter delights
to my superstitious fancy.
And here I was at CRANBERRY cross-roads,
with a funeral director's sign over my head. A
long five minutes I meditated on the mystery
of Life and Death and cranberries. A fat
chicken* apparently meditating on the same
mystery, kept walking up and down, catching
At length it was revealed to me that when
things have their proper rhythm Life and Death
are interwoven, like willows plaited for a
basket. Somewhat later in the afternoon I
speculated that when times are out of joint, it
DEATH, DEVIL, HUMAN KINDNESS 163
is because Death reigns without Life for a
partner, with the assistance of the Devil rather.
But do not remember this. It anticipates the
One does not hasten into the presence of the
undertaker. One rather waits. HE was com-
ing. I did not look round. Even at noon he
cast a considerable shadow.
The shadow dwindled as he sat on the same
step and asked : " What road have you come ?"
His non-partisan drawl was the result, we will
suppose, of not knowing which side of the
store the new customer approached.
"I came from over there. I have been walk-
ing since sunrise, 5 '
He had some account of my adventures, and
my point of view as a religious mendicant. I
knew I would have to ask the further road of
him, but disliked the necessity. He waited
patiently while I watched my friend, the fat
chicken,, explore an empty, dirty, bottomless
basket for flies.
"I want to go west by way of Oil City/* I
He answered: "Oil City is reached by the
north road, straight in front of you as you sit.
164 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
It Is about an hour's walk to the edge of it.
It is a sort of trap in the mountains. "When
you get in sight of it, keep on going down"
This he said very solemnly.
He put his hand on my shoulder: "Come
in and rest and eat first. It won't cost you a
I was hungry enough to eat a coffin handle,
and so I looked at him and extended my hand.
He was a handsome chap, with a grey mustache.
His black coat was buttoned high. He was
extra neat for a country merchant, and chewed
his tobacco surreptitiously. His face was not
so bony and stern as you might think.
I gave him an odd copy of the Tree of Laugh-
ing Bells, still remaining by me. He looked at
the outside long, doing the cover more than
justice. Then he opened it, with a certain air
of delicate appreciation. I urged him to post-
pone reading the thing till I was gone.
His store was high and long and narrow and
cool. There was a counter to the west, a
counter to the east. Behind the western one
were tall coffin cupboards. As he proudly
opened and shut them, one could not but
notice the length of his fingers and their dex-
DEATH, DEVIL, EHDM^N KINDNESS 165
terity. He showed plain coffins and splendid
coffins. He unscrewed the lid of one, that I
might see the silky cushions within. They
looked easier than last night's lounge.
As he stepped across what might be called
the international date line of the store, and
entered the hemisphere of groceries, he began
to look as though he would indulge in a merry
quip. A faint flush came to his white coun-
tenance, that shone among the multi-colored
Before us were the supplies of a rural general
store, from the kitchen mop to the blue parlor
vase. Hanging from the ceiling was an array
of the flamboyant varnished posters of the
seedsmen, with pictures of cut watermelons,
blood-red, and portraits of beets, cabbages,
I read his home-made sign aloud : CC I guaran-
tee every seed in the store. Pansy seeds a
"Not that they all grow/ 3 he explained.
"But the guarantee keeps up the confidence
of the customers. I have made more off of
vegetable and flower seeds this year than
166 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
He pulled out a chip plate and fed me with
dried beef, sliced tMn.
He smiled broadly, and set down a jar. The
merry quip had arrived.
"Why/' he asked, "is a stick of candy like a
I remained silent, but looked anxious to
know. Delighted with himself, he gave the
ancient answer, and with it several sticks of
candy. Kind reader, if you do not know the
answer to the riddle, ask your neighbor.
There was no end of sweets. He skilfully
sliced fresh bread, and spread it with butter
and thick honey-comb. With much self-ap-
proval he insisted on crowding my pockets with
"Nobody knows how they will treat you
around Oil City. I go often., but never for
pleasure. Only on funeral business."
He gave me pocketfuls of the little animal
crackers, so daintily cut out, that used to delight
all of us as children. Since he insisted I take
something more, I took figs and dates.
He held up an animal cracker, shaped like a
cow, and asked: "When was beefsteak the
highest ? " I ventured to give the answer.
DEATH, DEVIL, HUMAN KINDNESS 167
Death is not a bad fellow. Let no man cross
his grey front stoop with misgiving. The
honey he serves is made by noble bees. Yet
do not go seeking him out. No doubt his
acquaintance is most worth while when it is
casual, unexpected, one of the natural accidents.
And he does not always ask such simple riddles,
THE TRAP WITHOUT THE BAIT
It was about two o'clock when the north road
left the cornfields and reached the hill crests
above the city. How the highway descended
over cliffs and retraced itself on ridges and
wound into hollows to get to the streets! At
the foot of the first incline I met a lame cat
creeping, panic-stricken, out of town.
Oil City is an ugly, confused kind of place.
There are thousands like it in the United States.
I reached the post-office at last. There was
no letter for me at the general delivery. I was
expecting a miss-iie. And now my blistered
heels, and my breaking the rule to avoid the
towns, and my detour of half a day were all in
168 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
Oil City, in her better suburbs, as a collection
of worthy families in comfortable homes, may
have much to say for herself. But as a cor-
porate soul she has no excuse. The dominant,
shoddy architecture is as eloquent as the red nose
of a drunkard. I do not need to take pains to
work her into my allegory. The name she has
chosen makes her a symbol. No doubt others
reach the very heart of her only to find it empty
as the post-office was to me. Baffling as this
may be, there is another risk. Escape is not
Almost out of town at last, I sat down by the
fence, determined not to stir till morning. I
said, "I can sleep with my back against this
I had just overtaken the lame cat, and she
now moved past me over the ridge to the corn-
fields. She seemed most unhappy. I looked
back to that oil metropolis. I wondered how
many had lived and died there when they would
have preferred some other place.
DEATH, DEVIL, HUMAN KINDNESS 169
A MYSTERIOUS DEIVER
A fat Italian came by in a heavily-tired wagon.
The wagon was loaded with green bananas.
The fruit-vendor stopped and looked me over.
He most demonstratively offered me a seat
beside him. He had a Benvenuto Cellini leer.
He wore one gold earring. He looked like the
social secretary of the Black Hand.
He was apparently driving on into the coun-
try. Therefore I suffered myself to be pulled
up on to the seat. Around the corner we came
to green fields and bushes, and I thanked the
good St. Francis and all his holy company.
I said to my charioteer : "As soon as you get
a mile out, let me down. I do not want to get
near any more towns for awhile.'*
"Allaright/' he said. On his wrist was
tattooed a blue dagger. The first thing he did
was unmerciful. He went a yard out of his
way to drive over the lame cat which had
stopped in despair, just ahead of us. Pussy
died without a shriek. Then the cruel one,
gathering by my manner that I was not pleased
with this incident, created a diversion. He
170 A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGARS
reproved Ms horse for not hurrying. It was
not so much a curse as an Italian oration. The
poor animal tried to respond, but hobbled so,
Ms master surprised me by checking the gait
to a walk. Then he cooed to the horse like a
two hundred pound turtledove.
In a previous incarnation tMs driver must
have been one of the lower animals, he had so
many dealings with such. Some rocks half the
size of base-balls were piled at Ms feet. A
ferocious dog shot out from a cottage doorway.
With lightning action he hurled the ammuni-
tion at the offender. The beast retreated
weeping aloud from pain. And Mr. Cellini
showed Ms teeth with delight.
And now, after passing several pleasant farm-
houses, where I ran a chance for a free lodging for
the asking, I was vexed to be suddenly driven
into a town. We hobbled., rattled on, into a
wilderness tMcker every minute with fire-
"This ees FranHin," said my charioteer.
" Nice-a-town. MY town/ 5 he added earnestly.
"I getta reech (rich) to-morrow/'
He began to cross-examine the writer of
this tale. I counselled myself not to
DEATH, DEVIL, HUMANJ KINDNESS 171
give my name and address, lest I be held for
After many harmless Inquiries, he asked
in a would-be ingratiating manner, "Poppa
"Poppa verra reech?"
"No. Awfully poor. But happy and con-
"Where your Poppa leeve?"
"My father is the Man in the Moon.' 5
That answer changed him completely. I
seemed to have given the password. I had
joined whatever it was he belonged to. He
gave me three oranges as a sign.
I had hoped we would drive past the smoke
and fire. But he turned at right angles," into
the midst of it, and drove into a big black barn.
He waved me good-by in the courtliest manner,
as though he were somebody important, and I
were somebody important.
Pretty soon I asked a passer-by the nearest
way to the suburbs. I had to walk on the
edges of my feet they were so tired. The street
he pointed out to me was nothing but a contin-
uation of tar-black, coughing, out-of-door ovens,
172 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
side by side, shoulder to shoulder, on to the
crack of doom. I presume, in the language of
this vain world, they were coke ovens.
I opened my eyes as little as possible and
breathed hardly at all. Then, by way of diver-
sion, I nibbled animal crackers, first a dog,
then a giraffe, then a hippopotamus, then an
Those ovens looked queerer as the street led
on. There were subtle essences abroad when
the smoke cleared away, and when the great
roar ceased there were vague sounds that
struck awe into the heart. I may be mistaken,
but I think I know the odor of a burning ghost
on the late afternoon wind, and the puffing
noise he makes.
As the cinders crunched, crunched, underfoot,
the conviction deepened: "These ovens are
not mere works of man. Dying sinners snared
and corrupted by Oil City are carried here
when the city has done its work carried in
the wagon of Apollyon, under bunches of green
bananas. Body and soul they are disintegrated
by the venomous oil ; they crumble away in the
town of oil, and here in the town of ovens, the
fragments are burned with unquenchable fire."
DEATH, DEVIL, HUMAN KINDNESS 173
Now it was seven o'clock. The street led
south past the aristocratic suburbs of Franklin,
and on to the fields and dandelion-starred
THE ALLEGORY BREAKS DOWN. MY FRIEND
WITH THE GREEN GALLUSES
I hoped for a farm-hand's house. Only in
that sort will they give free lodging so near
town. And, friends, I found it, there on the
edge of the second cornfield. The welcome was
I looked at my host aghast. To satisfy my
sense of the formal, he should have had the
dignity to make him Father Adam, and lord of
Paradise. How could one round out a day that
began loftily with Death, and continued glo-
riously with some one mighty like the Devil,
with this inglorious type now before me? He
wrecked my allegory. There is no climax in
Just as the colorless, one-room house had
stove, chimney, cupboard, adequate roof, floor,
and walls, so the owner had the simplified,
174 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
anatomical, and phrenological make-up of a
man. He tad a luke-warm hand-clasp. He
smoked a Pittsburg stogy. He had thick
vague features and a shock of drab hair. The
nearest to a symbol about him was his new
green galluses. I suppose they indicated I
was out in the fields again.
If his name was not Stupidity, it was Awk-
wardness. He kept a sick geranium in an old
tomato can in the window. He had not cut off
the bent-back cover of the can. Just after he
gave me a seat he scratched his hand, as he was
watering the flower, and swore softly.
Yet one must not abuse his host. I hasten to
acknowledge his generous hospitality. If it
be not indelicate to mention it, he boiled much
water, and properly diluted it with cold, that
the traveller might bathe. The bath was ac-
complished out of doors beneath the shades of
Later he was making preparations for supper,
with dull eyes that looked nowhere. He made
sure I fitted my chair. He put an old com-
fort over it. It was well. The chair was
not naturally comfortable; it was partly a
DEATH, DEVIL, HUMAN KINDNESS 175
After much fumbling about, lie brought some
baked potatoes from the oven. The plate was
so hot he dropped it, but so thick it would not
He picked up the potatoes, as good as ever,
and broke some open for me, spreading them
with tolerable butter, and handing them across
the table. Then I started to eat.
"Wait a minute," he said. He bowed his
head, closed his dull eyes, and uttered these
words : " The Lord make us truly thankful for
what we are about to receive. Amen/'
I have been reproved by some of the judicious
for putting so much food in these narratives.
Nevertheless the first warm potato tasted like
peacocks' tongues, the next like venison, and
the next like ambrosia, and the next like a good
warm potato with butter on it. One might as
well leave Juliet out of Verona as food like
this out of a road-story. As we ate we hinted
to each other of our many ups and downs. He
mumbled along, telling his tale. He did not
care whether he heard mine or not.
He had been born near by. In early manhood
he had been taken with the oil fever. It hap-
pened in this wise : He had cut his foot
176 A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGARS
splitting kindling. Meditating ambition as lie
slowly recovered, he resolved to go to town.
He sold Ms small farm and wasted his substance
in speculation. At the same time his young
wife and only child died of typhoid fever. He
was a laborer awhile in the two cities to the
northeast. Then he came back here to plough
He had been saving for two years, had made
money enough to go back "pretty soon" and
enter what he considered a sure-thing scheme,
that I gathered had a close relation to the oil
business. He said that he had learned from
experience to sift the good from the bad in that
realm of commerce.
He put brakes on the slow freight train of his
narrative. "I was about to explain, when you
ast to come in, that I don't afford dessert to my
"If you will excuse me/ 5 I said, emptying
my pockets, " these figs, these dates, these
oranges, these animal crackers were given me
by Death, and the Devil. Eat hearty."
"Death and the Devil. What kind are
"They're not a bad sort. Death gave me
DEATH, DEYIL, HOIAN KINDNESS 177
honey for dinner, and the Devil did no worse
than drive me a little out of my way/*
He smiled vaguely. He thought it was a
joke, and was too interested in the food itself
to ask any more questions.
The balmy smokeless wind from the south
was whistling, whistling past the window, and
through the field. How much one can under-
stand by mere whispers ! The wind cried,
"Life, life, life !" Some of the young corn was
brushing the walls of the cottage, and armies on
armies of young corn were bivouacing further
down the road, lifting their sacred tassels
toward the stars.
There was no change in the expression of the
countenance of my host, eating, talking, or
sitting still in the presence of the night. I
may have had too poor an estimate of his powers,
but I preached no sermon that evening,
But, like many a primitive man I have met,
he preached me a sermon. He had no bed.
He gave the traveller a place to sleep in one
corner and himself slept in the opposite corner.
The floor was smooth and clean and white, and
the many scraps of rag carpet and the clean
comfort over me were a part of the sermon.
178 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
Another part was in Ms question before he slept :
"Does the air from that open window bother
I assured him I wanted all there was, though
from the edge of the world.
He had awkwardly folded his new overcoat,
and put it under my head. . . . And so I
was beginning to change his name from Stupid-
ity and Awkwardness to Humankindness.
Though in five minutes he was snoring like
Sousa's band, I could not but sleep. When I
awoke the sun was in my eyes. It shone
through the open door. Mr. Humankindness
was up. The smell of baked potatoes was in
the air. Outside, rustled the corn. The wind
cried, "Life, life, life."
This being the name of praise given to a fair lady.
I USED to think, when the corn was blowing,
Of my lost lady, Life Transcendent,
Of her valiant way, of her pride resplendent :
For the corn swayed round, like her warrior-
When I knelt by the blades to kiss her hand.
But now the green of the corn is going.
And winter conies and a springtime sowing
Of other grain, on the plains we knew.
So I walk on air, where the clouds are blowing,
And kiss her hand, where the gods are sowing
Stars for corn, in the star-fields new.
IN THE IMMACULATE CONCEPTION
HUNTED by friends who think that life is play,
Shaken by holy loves, more feared than foes,
By beauty's amber cup, that overflows,
And pride of place, that leads me more astray :
Here I renew my vows, and this chief vow
To seek each year this shrine of deathless power,
Keeping my springtime cornland thoughts in
While labor-gnarled grey Christians round me
Arm me against great towns, strong spirits old !
St. Francis keep me road- worn, music-fed.
Help me to look upon the poor-house bed
As a most fitting death, more dear than gold.
Help me to seek the sunburned groups afield,
The iron folk, the pioneers free-born.
D1MACUIATE CONCEPTION CHURCH 181
Make me to voice the tall men In the corn.
Let boyhood's wildfiower days a bright fruit
Scourge me, a slave that brings unhallowed
To you, stern Virgin in this church so sweet,
If I desert the ways wherein my feet
Were set by Heaven, in prenatal days.
THE OLD GENTLEMAN WITH THE
LANTERN (AND THE PEOPLE OF
THE SAVAGE NECKLACE
THE reader need not expect this book to
contain any nicely adjusted plot with a villain,
hero, lawyer, papers, surprise, and happy ending.
The highway is irrelevant. The highway is
slipshod. The highway is as the necklace of a
gipsy or an Indian, a savage string of pebbles
and precious stones, no two alike, with an occa-
sional trumpery suspender button or peach seed.
Every diamond is in the rough.
I was walking between rugged farms on the
edge of the oil country in western Pennsylvania.
The road, almost dry after several days of
rain, was gay with butterfly-haunted puddles.
The grotesque swain who gave me a lift in his
automobile for a mile is worth a page, but we
will only say that his photograph would have
contributed to the gaiety of nations that he
OLD GEXTLEMAX WITH LAXTERX 183
was the carved peach-stone on the necklace of
There was a complacent cat In a doorway,
that should have been named " scrambled eggs
and milk/' so mongrel was his overcoat. There
was a philosophic grasshopper reading inscrip-
tions in a lonely cemetery, with whom I had a
long and silent interchange of spirit. Even the
graveyard was full of sun.
On and on led the merry morning* At
length came noon, and a meal given with hearti-
ness, as easily plucked as a red apple. For half
an hour after dinner in that big farm-house we
sat and talked religion.
O pagan in the cities, the brand of one's belief
is still important in the hayfield. I was de-
lighted to discover this household held by con-
viction to the brotherhood of which I was still
a nominal member. Their lingo was a taste
of home. "Our People," "Our Plea/' "The
pious unimmersed." Thus did they lead them-
selves into paths of solemnity.
Then, in the last five minutes of my stay, I
gave them my poem-sermon. The pamphlet
made them stare, if it did not make them think.
Splendor after splendor rolled in upon the
184 A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGARS
highway from the four corners of heaven.
Why then should I complain, if about four
o'clock the prosy old world emerged again?
The wagon-track now followed a section of
the Pennsylvania railroad, and railroads are
anathema in my eyes when I am afoot. There
appeared no promising way of escape. And
now the steel rails led into a region where there
had been rain, even this morning. More than
once I had to take to the ties to go on. When
the mud was at all passable I walked in it by
preference, fortifying myself with these philos-
"Cinders are sterile. They blast man and
nature, but the black earth renews all. Mud
upon the shoes is not a contamination but a sign
of progress, eloquent as sweat upon the brow.
Who knows but the feet are the roots of a man ?
Who knows but rain on the road may help him
to grow? Maybe the stature and breadth of
farmers is due to their walking behind the
plough in the damp soil. Only an aviator or a
bird has a right to spurn the ground. All the
rest of us must furrow our way. Thus will our
cores be enriched, thus will we give fruit after
OLD GENTLEMAN WITH LANTERN 185
Whistling pretty hard, I made my way.
And now I had to choose between my rule to
flee from the railroad, and my rule to ask for
hospitality before dark.
At length I said to myself : "I want to get
into a big unsophisticated house, the kind that is
removed from this railroad. I want to find an
unprejudiced host who will listen with an open
mind, and let me talk him to death."
To keep this resolve I had to hang on till near
eight o'clock. The cloudy night made the way
dim. At length I came to a road that had been
so often graded and dragged it shed water like
a turtle's shell. It crossed the railway at right
angles and ploughed north. I followed it a
mile, shaking the heaviest mud from my shoes.
Led by the light of a lantern, I approached a
dim grey farm-house and what would have
been in the daytime a red barn.
BY THE LIGHT OF THE LANTERN
The lantern was carried, as I finally dis-
covered, by an old man getting a basket of chips
near the barn gate. He had his eye on me as I
186 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGAES
leaned over the fence. He swung the lantern
"My name is Nicholas/' I said. "I am a
"W-e-H," lie said slowly, in question, and
then in exclamation.
He flashed the lantern in my face. "Come
in/ 5 he said. "Sit down."
We were together on the chip-pile. He did
not ask me to split kindling, or saw wood. Few
people ever do.
In appearance he was the old John G. Whittier
type of educated laboring man, only more
eagle-like. He spoke to me in a kingly prophetic
manner, developed, I have no doubt, by a life-
time of unquestioned predominance at prayer-
meeting and at the communion table. It was
the sonorous agricultural holy tone that is the
particular aversion of a certain pagan type of
city radical who does not understand that the
meeting-house is the very rock of the agricul-
tural social system. As far as I am concerned,
if this manner be worn by a kindly old man, it
inspires me with respect and delight. In a slow
and gracious way he separated his syllables.
"Young man, you are per-fect-ly wel-come
OLD GENTLEMAN WITH LANTERN 187
to shel-ter If we are on-ly sure you will not do us
an in-ju-ry. My age and ex-per-ience ought
to count for a lit-tle, and I assure you that most
free travel-ers abuse hos-pi-tal-ity. But wait
till my daugh-ter-in-law comes."
I was shivering with weariness, and my wet
feet wanted to get to a stove at once. I did not
feel so much like talking some one to death as I
had a while back.
By way of passing the time, the Patriarch
showed me his cane. "Pre-sen-ted at the last
old set-tel-ers* picnic because I have been the
pres-i-dent of the old-settlers* association for
ten years. Young man, why don't you carry a
"Why should I?"
"Won't it help you to keep off dogs ?"
I replied, "A housekeeper, if she is in a ner-
vous condition, is apt to be afraid of a walking-
stick. It looks like a club. To carry something
to keep off dogs is like carrying a lightning-rod
to keep off lightning. I encounter a lot of
barking and thunder, but have never been
bitten or blasted."
And while I was thus laboring for the respect
of the Patriarch, the daughter-in-law stepped
188 A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGARS
into the golden circle of the lantern light. She
had just come from the milking. I shall never
forget those bashful gleaming eyes, peering out
from the sunbonnet. Her sleeves were rolled
to the shoulder. Startling indeed were those
arms, as white as the foaming milk.
She set down the bucket with a big sigh of
relaxation. She pushed back the sunbonnet
to get a better look. The old man addressed
her in an authoritative and confident way, as
though she were a mere adjunct, a part of his
"Daugh-ter, here is a good young man he
LOOKS like a good young man, I think a stew-
dent. You see he has books in his pock-et.
He wants a night's lodging. Now, if he is a
good young man, I think we can give him the
bed in the spare room, and if he is a bad young
man, I think there is enough rope in the barn
to hang him before day-light."
"Yes, you can stay," she said brightly.
"Have you had supper?"
It is one of the obligations of the road to
tell the whole truth. But in this case I lied.
The woman was working too late.
"Oh yes, I've had supper," I said.
OLD GENTLEMAN WITH LANTERN 189
And she carried the milk into the darkness.
In the city, among people having the status
indicated by the big red barn and the enormous
wind-mill and a most substantial fence, this
gleaming woman would have languished in
shelter. She would have played at many
philanthropies, or gone to many study clubs or
have had many lovers. She would have been
variously adventurous according to her corner
of the town. Here her paramour was WORK.
He still caressed her, but would some day break
her on the wheel.
The old man sent me toward the front porch
alone. There was a rolling back of the low
gray clouds just then, and the coming of the
moon. The moon's moods are so many. To-
night she took the f orlornness out of the restless
sky. She looked domestic as the lantern.
You OUGHT TO BE ASHAMED OF YOURSELF
I was on the porch, scraping an acquaint-
ance with the grandmother. She held a baby
in her lap. They sat in the crossing of the
moonlight and the lamplight.
190 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
There was no one to explain me. I explained
myself. Site eyed me angrily. She did not
want me to shake hands with the baby. She
asked concerning her daughter-in-law.
"And did she say you could stay? 35
The grandmother brought a hard fist down
on the arm of the chair : "I'd like to break her
neck. She's no more backbone than a rabbit."
I do not distinctly remember any bitter old
man I have met in my travels. She was the
third bitter old woman. Probably with the
same general experiences as her husband, she
had digested them differently. She was on
the shelf, but made for efficiency and she was
not run down.
In her youth her hair was probably red.
Though she was plainly an old woman, it was
the brown of middle age with only a few streaks
of gray. Under her roughness there were
touches of a truly cultured accent and manner.
I would have said that in youth she had had
what they call opportunities.
I asked: "Isn't the moon fine to-night?"
She replied : "Why don't you go to work?"
I answered: "I asked for work in the big
OLD GENTLEMAN WITH LANTERN 191
city till I was worn to a thread. And you are
the first person who has urged it on me since
I took to tramping. I wonder why no one
ever thought of it before."
She* smiled grudgingly.
"What kind of work did you try to do in the
"I wanted to paint rainbows and gild side-
walks and blow bubbles for a living. But no
one wanted me to. It is about all I am fit for."
"Don't talk nonsense to me, young man!"
"Pardon me, leddy I am a writer of
"The nation's going to the dogs," she said.
I suppose I was the principal symptom of
Just then a happy voice called through the
house, "Come to supper."
"That's for you," said the grandmother.
"You ought to be ashamed of yourself."
I went in the direction of the voice, delighted,
not ashamed. There, in that most cleanly
192 A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGARS
kitchen, stood the white-armed milkmaid, with
cheeks of geranium red. She had spread a
table before me in the presence of mine enemy.
I said : "I did not ask for supper. I told you
I had eaten/'
"Oh, I knew you were hungry. Wait on
My hostess scurried into the other room.
She was in a glorious mood over something
with which I had nothing to do.
Gretchen-Cecilia came out of the pantry and
poured me a glass of warm milk. I looked at
her, and my destiny was sealed f orevermore
at least for an hour or so. The sight of her
brought the tears to my eyes.
I know you are saying: "Beware of the
man with tears in his eyes/' Yes, I too have
seen weeping exhibitions. I remember a cer-
tain pious exhorter. The collection followed
soon. And I used to hear an actor brag about
the way he wept when he looked upon a cer-
tain ladylike actress whom we all adore. He
vividly pictured himself with a handkerchief
to his devoted cheeks, waiting in the wings for
his cue. He had belladonna eyes. At the
risk of being classed with such folk, I reaffirm
OLD GENTLEMAN WITH LANTEEN 193
that I was a little weepy. I Insist It was not
gratitude for a sudden square meal if truth
be told, I have had many such it was the
It took little conversation to show that
Gretchen-Cecilia was a privileged character.
She had little of the touch of the farm upon
her. She was the spoiled pet of the house, and
the index of their prosperity what novelists
call the third generation. She had a way of
lifting her chin and shoving her fists deep into
her apron pockets.
I said: "I have a fairy-tale to read to you
after supper. 5 '
And she said : "I like fairy-tales/ 5 And
then, redundantly : "I like stories about fairies.
Fairy stories are nice."
It was no little pleasure to eat after nine
hours doing without, and to dwell on beauty
such as this after so many days of absence
from the museums of art and the curio shops.
Every time she brought me warm biscuits or
refilled my tumbler, she brought me pretty
thoughts as well.
She was nine years old, she told me. Her
eyes were sometimes brown, sometimes violet.
194 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
Her mouth was half a cherry, and her chin the
quintessence of elegance. Her braids were
long and rich, her ribbons wide and crisp.
Maidenhood has distinct stages. The six-
teenth year, when unusually ripe, is a tender
prophecy. Thirteen is often the climax of
astringent childhood, with its especial defiance
or charm. But nine years old is my favorite
season. It is spring in winter. It is sweet
sixteen through walls of impregnable glass.
This ripeness dates from prehistoric days,
when people lived in the tops of the trees, and
almost flew to and from the nests they built
there, and mated much earlier than now.
As I finished eating, the mother brought the
little brother into the room saying, "Gretchen-
Cecilia, watch the baby." Then she smiled on
me and said: "When she washes the dishes,,
you can hold him."
She had on a fresh gingham apron, blue, with
white trimmings. I judged by the squeak,
she had changed her shoes.
"Who's coming?" I asked, when the mother
"Papa. He goes around the state and digs
oil wells, and is back at the end of the week."
OLD GENTLEMAN WITH LANTERN 195
I was washing the dishes when Grandma came
In. She frowned me away from the dishpan.
She said, " Gretchen-Cecilia, wipe the dishes/'
The baby howled on the floor. I was not
to touch him. Gretchen-Cecilia tried to com-
fort him by saying, "Baby, dear dear baby;
baby, dear dear baby."
"Do you realize, young man, 5 * asked
Grandma, "that I, an old woman, am wash-
ing your dishes for you?"
I was busy. I was putting my wet stockinged
feet on a kindling-board in the oven, and my
shoes were curling up on the back of the
"Young man "
"Where's your wife ?"
I replied, "I have no wife, and never did
have." Then I ventured to ask, "May I
have the hand of Gretchen ? I want some one
who can wipe dishes while I wash them."
"But I'm not grown up/' piped the maiden.
It seemed her only objection.
I said: "I will wait and wait till you are
The old lady had no soul for trifles. She in-
196 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
toned, like conscience that will not be slain :
66 Where's your wife?"
But I said in my heart: "Madam, you are
only a suspender-button upon the necklace of
"PAPA HAS COME!"
There was a scurry and a flutter. Gretchen
threw down her dish-rag, leaving Grandma a
plate to wipe.
I heard the grandfather say, "Wei-come, son,
wel-come indeed!" The young wife gave a
smothered shriek, and then in a minute I
heard her exclaim, "John, you're a scamp!"
I put on my hot shoes and went in to see
what this looked like. Gretchen-Cecilia was
somewhere between them, and then on her
father's shoulder, mussing his hair. And the
mother took Gretchen down, as John said in
reply to a question :
"Business is good. Whether there's oil or
not, I dig the hole and get paid."
This man was now standing his full height
for his family to admire. He was one I too
OLD GENTLEMAN WITH LANTERN 197
could not help admiring. He had an open
sunburned face, and I thought that behind it
there was a non-scheming mind, that had
attained good fortune beyond the lot of most
of the simple. He was worth the dressing up
the family had done for him, and almost worthy
of Gretchen's extra crisp hair ribbons.
His wife put her arms around his neck and
whispered something, evidently about me. He
watched me over his shoulder as much as to
"And so it's a stray dog wants shelter? No
He unwrapped his package. It was an
extraordinary doll, with truly truly hair, and
Gretchen-Cecilia had to give him seven kisses
and almost cry before he surrendered It.
He pulled off his boots and threw them in
the corner, then paddled up stairs and came
down in his shoes. For no reason at all
Gretchen-Cecilia and her mother chased him
around the kitchen table with a broom and a
feather duster, and then out on to the back
198 A HANDY GUIDE FOE BEGGARS
The grandfather called me into the front
room and handed me a book.
"Yer a schol-ar. What do you think of
It was a history of the county. The fron-
tispiece was a portrait of Judge Somebody.
But the book naturally opened at about the
tenth page, on an atrocious engraving of this
goodly old man and his not ill-looking wife.
He breathed easier when I found it. It was
plainly a basis of family pride. I read the
"So you two are the oldest inhabitants ?" I
"The oldest per-pet-ual in-habitants. I was
born in this coun-ty and have nev-er left it.
My wife is some young-er, but she has nev-er
left it, since she married me."
Even the old lady grew civil. She tapped a
brooch near her neck. "They gave me this
breast-pin at the last old settlers' picnic."
The old man continued: "All the old farm
is still here in our hands, but mostly rented.
OLD GENTLEMAN WITH LANTERN 199
It brings something, something. Our big in-
come is from my son's well-digging. He never
speculates and he makes money."
It seemed a part of the old man's pride to
have even the passing stranger realize they
were well-fixed. In "a furtive attempt to do
justice to their station in life they had a tall
clock in the corner, quite new and beautiful.
And, as I discovered later, there was up-
stairs a handsome bath-room. The rest of
that new house was clean and white, but help-
The old folk were called to the back porch.
At the same time I heard the mother say,
"Show the man your doll."
And in came the little daughter like thistle-
We were in that white room at opposite ends
of the long table, and nothing but the im-
maculate cloth stretching between us. She
sat with the doll clutched to her breast, looking
straight into my eyes, the doll staring at me
also. The girl was such a piece of bewitch-
ment that the poem I brought to her about
the magical Tree of Laughing Bells seemed tame
to me, and everyday. That foolish rhyme was
200 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
soon read and put into her hands. It seemed
to give her an infinite respect for me. And
any human creature loves to be respected.
On the back porch the talking grew louder.
"Papa is telling them he wants to rent the
rest of the farm and move us all to town/'
It was the soft voice of the young wife we
heard : " Of course it will be nice to be nearer
And then the young father's voice : "And I
don't want Gretchen to grow up on the farm."
And the old man's voice, still nobly intoned :
"And as I say, I don't want to be stub-born,
but I don't want to cross the coun-ty line."
Gretchen banged the door on them and we
crossed the county line indeed. We told each
other fairy-tales while the unheeded murmur
of debate went on.
When it came Gretchen's turn, she alter-
nated Grimm, and Hans Andersen and the
legends of the Roman Church. I had left the
railroad resolved to talk some one to death,
and now with all my heart I was listening.
She knew the tales I had considered my special
discoveries in youth: "The Amber Witch,"
OLD GENTLEMAN WITH LANTERN 201
"The Enchanted Horse," "The Two Brothers."
She also knew that most pious narrative, Elsie
Dinsmore. She approved when I told her I
had found it not only sad but helpful in my
spiritual life. She had found it just so in hers.
THE SPARE ROOM
With her eyes still flashing from argument,
the grandmother took me up stairs. She gave
me a big bath-towel, and showed me the bath-
room, and also my sleeping place. I asked her
about the holy pictures hanging near my bed.
She explained in a voice that endeavored not
to censure : "My daughter-in-law is of German-
Catholic descent, and she is still Catholic/'
"What is your denomination?" I asked.
"My husband and son and I are Congrega-
She did not ask it of me, but I said : "I am
what is sometimes disrespectfully called a
But the old lady was gone.
After a boiling bath* I lay musing under
those holy pictures. My brother of the road,
02 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
when they put you in the best room, as they
sometimes do, and you look at the white coun-
terpane and the white sheets and the cosey
appointments, do you take these brutally, or
do you think long upon the intrinsic generosity
of God and man?
I have laid hold of hospitality coldly and
greedily in my time, but this night at least, I
was thankful. And as I turned my head in a
new direction I was thankful most of all for
the unexpected presence of the Mother of God.
There was her silvery statue near the foot of
my bed, the moonlight pouring straight in
upon it through the wide window. It spoke to
me of peace and virginity.
And I thought how many times in Babylon
I had gone into the one ever open church to
look on the crowned image of the Star of the
Sea. Though I am no servitor of Rome I
have only adoration for virginity, be it carved
in motionless stone, or in marble that breathes
A long long time I lay awake while the image
glimmered and glowed. The clock downstairs
would strike its shrill bell, and in my heart a
OLD GENTLEMAN WITH LANTERN 203
There was a pounding on the door and a
shout. It was the young husband's voice.
"It's time to feed your face."
They were at the breakfast-table when I
came down. My cherished memory of the
group is the picture of them with bowed heads,
the grandfather, with hand upraised, saying
grace. It was ornate, and by no means brief.
It was rich with authority. I wanted to call
in all the mocking pagans of the nation, to be
subdued before that devotion. I wanted to
say: "Behold, little people, some great hearts
I stood in the door and made shift to bow
my head. Yet my head was not so much bowed
but I could see Gretchen-Cecilia and her mother
timidly cross themselves. In my heart I said
"Amen" to the old man's prayer. But I love
every kind of devotion, so I crossed myself in
the Virgin's name.
The tale had as well end here as anywhere.
On the road there are endless beginnings and
few conclusions. For instance I gathered from
204 A HANDY GUIDE FOR BEGGARS
the conversation at the breakfast table they
were not sure whether they would move to the
city or not. They were for the most part
silent and serene.
There were pleasant farewells a little later.
Gretchen-Cecilia, when the others were not
looking, gave me, at my earnest solicitation, a
tiny curl from the head of her doll that had
truly truly hair.
I walked on and on, toward the ends of the
infinite earth, though I had found this noble
temple, this shrine not altogether made with
hands. I again consecrated my soul to the
august and Protean Creator, maker of all
religions, dweller in all clean temples, master
of the perpetual road.
THAT MEN MIGHT SEE AGAIN THE
WOULD we were blind with Milton, and we sang
With him of uttermost Heaven in a new song,
That men might see again the angel-throng,
And newborn hopes, true to this age would rise,
Pictures to make men weep for paradise,
All glorious things beyond the defeated grave.
God smite us blind, and give us bolder wings ;
God help us to be brave.
Printed in the United States of America.
following pages contain advertisements
of books by the same author.
VERSE BY THE SAME AUTHOR
The Congo and Other Poems
With a preface by HARRIET MONROE, Editor of the Poetry Magazine.
Cloth t ismO) $1.25 ; leather , $1.60
In the readings which Vachel Lindsay has given for
colleges, universities, etc., throughout the country, he
has won the approbation of the critics and of his au-
diences in general for the new verse-form which he is
employing, as well as the manner of his chanting and
singing, which is peculiarly his own. He carries in
memory all the poems in his books, and recites the pro-
gram made out for him ; the wonderful effect of sound
produced by his lines, their relation to the idea which
the author seeks to convey, and their marvelous lyrical
quality are quite beyond the ordinary, and suggest new
possibilities and new meanings in poetry. It is his
main object to give his already established friends a
deeper sense of the musical intention of his pieces.
The book contains the much discussed' 'War Poem,"
" Abraham Lincoln Walks at Midnight " ; it contains
among its familiar pieces : " The Santa Fe Trail,"
"The Firemen's Ball," "The Dirge for a Righteous
Kitten," "The Griffin's Egg," "The Spice Tree,"
" Blanche Sweet," " Mary Pickford," " The Soul of the
Mr. Lindsay received the Levinson Prize for the best poem
contributed to Poetry, a magazine of verse, (Chicago) for 1915.
"We do not know a young man of any more promise than Mr.
Vachel Lindsay for the task which he seems to have set himself."
The Dial. _
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York
VERSE BY THE SAME AUTHOR
General William Booth Enters Into
Heaven and Other Poems
Price, $2.23 ," leather \ $1.60
This book contains among other verses : " On Read-
ing Omar Khayyam during an Anti-Saloon Campaign
in Illinois " ; " The Wizard Wind " ; " The Eagle For-
gotten/' a Memorial to John P. Altgeld ; " The Knight
in Disguise," a Memorial to O, Henry; "The Rose
and the Lotus"; " Michaelangelo " ; "Titian"; "What
the Hyena Said"; " What Grandpa Mouse Said";
" A Net to Snare the Moonlight " ; " Springfield Magi-
cal " ; " The Proud Farmer " ; " The Illinois Village " ;
"The Building of Springfield."
COMMENTS ON" THE TITLE POEM:
"This poem, at once so glorious, so touching and poignant in
its conception and expression. ... is perhaps the most remark-
able poem of a decade one that defies imitation." Review of
"A sweeping and penetrating vision that works with a naive
charm. . . . No American poet of to-day is more a people's
poet." Boston Transcript.
"One could hardly overpraise 'General Booth.'" New York
" Something new in verse, spontaneous, passionate, unmindful
of conventions in form and theme." The Living Age.
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Publisher! 64-66 Fifth Avenue New York
PHOSE BY THE SAME AUTHOR
Adventures While Preaching the Gospel
This is a series of happenings afoot while reciting 1 at
back-doors in the west, and includes some experiences
while harvesting in Kansas. It includes several proc-
lamations which apply the Gospel of Beauty to agri-
cultural conditions. There are, among other rhymed
interludes: "The Shield of Faith," "The Flute of the
Lonely," "The Rose of Midnight," "Kansas," "The
SOMETHING TO READ
Vachel Lindsay took a walk from his home in Springfield, TIL,
over the prairies to New Mexico. He was in Kansas in wheat-
harvest time and he worked as a farmhand, and he tells all about
that. He tells about his walks and the people he met in a little
book, "Adventures while Preaching the Gospel of Beauty." For
the conditions of his tramps were that he should keep away from
cities, money, baggage, and pay his way by reciting his own poems.
And he did it. People liked his pieces, and tramp farmhands with
rough necks and rougher hands left off singing smutty limericks
and took to " Atlanta in Calydon" apparently because they pre-
ferred it. Of motor cars, which gave him a lift, he says: "I still
maintain that the auto is a carnal institution, to be shunned by the
truly spiritual, but there are times when I, for one, get tired of
being spiritual." His story of the **Five Little Children Eating
Mush" (that was one night in Colorado, and he recited to them
while they ate supper) has more beauty and tenderness and jolly
tears than all the expensive sob stuff theatrical managers ever
dreamed of. Mr. Lindsay doesn't need to write verse to be a poet.
His prose is poetry poetry straight from the soil, of America that
is, and of a nobler America that is to be. You cannot afford
both for your entertainment and for the real idea that this young
man has (of which we have said nothing) to miss this book.
Editorial from Collier's Weekly.
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Publishers 64-66 Fifth Avenue New Tork
PROSE BY THE SAME AUTHOR
The Art of the Moving Picture
An effort to apply the Gospel of Beauty to a new art.
' The first section has an outline which is proposed as a
basis for photoplay criticism in America ; chapters on :
" The Photoplay of Action," " The Intimate Photoplay,''
"The Picture of Fairy Splendor," "The Picture of
Crowd Splendor," "The Picture of Patriotic Splendor,"
"The Picture of Religious Splendor," " Sculpture in
Motion," "Painting in Motion," "Furniture," "Trap-
pings and Inventions in Motion, ". "Architecture in
Motion," "Thirty Differences between the Photoplays
and the Stage," " Hieroglyphics." The second section
Is avowedly more discursive, being more personal specu-
lations- and afterthoughts, not brought forward so dog-
matically ; chapters on: " The Orchestra Conversation
and the Censorship," "The Substitute for the Saloon,"
" California and America," " Progress and Endow-
ment," "Architects as Crusaders," "On Coming Forth
by Day," " The Prophet Wizard," " The Acceptable
Year of the Lord."
FOR ATE REVIEWS OF MR. LINDSAY AND HIS
The Dial. Unsigned article by Lucien Carey, October 16, 1914,
on " The Congo," etc.
The Yak Review: Article by H. M. Luquiens, July, 1916, on
"The Art of the Moving Picture."
GENERAL ARTICLES ON THE POETRY SITUATION
The Century Magazine ' "America's Golden Age in Poetry,"
Harper's Monthly Magazine : " The Easy Chair," William Dean
Howells, September, 1915.
The Craftsman: "Has America a National Poetry?" Amy
Lowell, July, 1916.
THE MACMILLAN COMPANY
Publisher! 64-66 Fifth. Avenue New York